Elon Musk Says He Wants To Put Chips In Human Brains Next Year

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • Elon Musk's Neuralink company is getting ready to test their brain implant chips in disabled people as early as 2022.

    • The company has already successfully completed testing on monkeys.

    • Rival companies are a bit ahead of Neuralink in the process of human testing.

  • Reflect On:
    • While this linking of computer with humans can be helpful for those with disabilities, will it stop there?

    • If this direction has the power to create a whole new species of humans, should the rest of humanity have a say on the direction these tech billionaires are moving us toward?

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In an interview with The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit, Neuralink cofounder Elon Musk stated that the company plans to put chips in human brains as early as next year. Neuralink has had success in implanting neurochips into the brains of monkeys, and are ready to move onto subjects that can have nuanced conversations.

In a Tweet yesterday, Musk stated the following about their progress,

“[progress] will accelerate when we have devices in humans (hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys) next year.”

Elon Musk

Neuralink will focus their brain implants on disabled patients, attempting to give them back use of their limbs.

“We hope to have this in our first humans — which will be people that have severe spinal cord injuries like tetraplegics, quadriplegics — next year pending FDA approval,”

Elon Musk

Musk’s company is not the first to make it this far. In July 2021, neurotech startup Synchron was given approval by the FDA to begin testing its neural implants in human paralysis patients.

There is no denying the benefit that can be derived from having a human gain access to limbs that have become paralyzed. This is truly a remarkable achievement of human innovation. But many are concerned about the ethics surrounding merging technology with humans should it go beyond this use case.

Many years ago people thought Ray Kurzweil was out to lunch with his future predictions that computers and humans, the singularity event, would eventually become reality. Yet here we are. As a result, this topic often referred to as ‘transhumanism’ has become a heated debate.

Trashumanism is often described as,

“a philosophical and intellectual movement which advocates for the enhancement of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies able to greatly enhance longevity, mood and cognitive abilities, and predicts the emergence of such technologies in the future.”

Modern Cosmism

The worry many have is that we are losing sight of what it means to be human. But it’s also true that many are taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach to the concept – it’s either entirely bad or entirely good. But instead of simply defending our positions, perhaps we can ignite curiosity and hear all sides.

Yuval Hirari, the author of a profound book called Sapiens: A brief history of humankind, discusses this issue in plain terms. He has stated that technology is advancing at such break neck speeds that very soon, we will be developing humans that will be so far beyond the species we know today, that it will be an entirely new species of its own.

“We’ll soon have the power to re-engineer our bodies and brains, whether it is with genetic engineering or by directly connection brains to computers. Or by creating completely non-organic entities or artificial intelligence – which is not based at all on the organic body and the organic brain.

This is something which is way beyond just another species.”

Yuval Hirari

In a conversation I had with Richard Garner, host of a Third Way Podcast, we explored the upsides and downsides to the advancement of this technology, and attempted to bring nuance to the discussion. It’s clear that we cannot simply throw this direction away as all bad. But we must look out for where this could lead as silicon valley billionaires have the power to change the entire human species. Should they be asking the rest of humanity whether this is a good idea? Or should we just accept the direction this is heading in?

I invite you to check out our brief discussion below.

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