Every change, every invention is good for some and bad for others. This is how the market and society evolve.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink, that has been very secretive about its work since its inception in 2017, has now revealed the breakthroughs it has achieved to surgically implant tiny electrodes within rats’ neurons and synapses in the brain. These implants connect their brain to high-speed computers, which record their activities.
In humans, these same implants could help people control their computers with their thoughts. Or so is Elon Musk’s aim. But it also means that the computers could record every thought that crosses the mind.
Neuralink is now seeking approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start clinical trials beginning as early as 2020, to implant these electrodes in the brains of humans by drilling four 8mm holes in the skull.
The potential good that this idea is banking upon to proceed, is that it could help thousands of people with paralysis live a better life; as the success of these trials will help them control computers and smartphones by their thoughts.
Now, it could be a while since this proceedure could see success, as human minds are filled with a lot more thoughts than a rats’, but the sheer possibility of having implants in the brain that connect to a computer could have major negative consequences to the society.
This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence. This is not a mandatory thing. It is a thing you can choose to have if you want. This is something that I think will be really important on a civilization-level scale.Elon Musk
The other side of the story is that having computers connected so closely with human minds could boost artificial intelligence capabilities; which could boost Elon Musk’s value and power in the AI race.
The power to control things using only our minds has long allured humans. It has been celebrated in cinema and hundreds of other mythilogical stories across the world. As a society we could reach a point where people willingly have these implants to make life easier. Afterall, how many people wouldn’t want to have even the partial ability of Professor X?
But the great idea for a marginal section of society to live a better life despite paralysis, could be used by the government and hackers very easily—given how sophisticated they are becoming—to track humans, their thoughts, their moves, everything. The potential for online fraud is far reaching, but more importantly, this will change the very essence of our human right to privacy.