The electric car front runner Elon Musk believes his other company Nueralink is the next big market disrupter. Musk believes Neuralink’s brain-interface chip is the future of human interactions with technology.
Musk stays in the public eye and is never without criticism or comment on the latest new technologies and political figureheads. Musk has been commenting about the metaverse saying, “sure you can put a TV on your nose. I’m not sure that makes you ‘in the metaverse’” Musk also criticizes the use of the bulky VR headsets and says “it gets uncomfortable to have this thing strapped to your head the whole time” and he further said with the use of the VR headsets, “I think we’re far from disappearing into the metaverse.” Additionally with the virtual reality crave comes Musk’s Web3 criticism. Web3 is the concept of democratizing the internet by reconstructing it around blockchain technology. Musk described Web3 in a recent interview as “more marketing than reality.”
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean something can’t be happening right in your face. In 1995, David Letterman did not believe the internet was anything more than an exaggerated use case for radio. And boy was David Letterman wrong. To give Musk credit as a first principal thinker, he did stop short of outright condemning the possibilities of the metaverse or Web 3 because as he says, there’s “a danger” of your not being able to “see a compelling metaverse situation” and he compared his perspective to that of David Letterman. Musk is a person that believes in himself and he also knows that with that comes right and wrong predictions, but he is not afraid to speak his mind.
Musk believes the future of human interface technology lies more in a computer chip being placed in your brain. Researchers and scientists are expressing horror at Musk’s idea of human brains being connected to computers. These researchers are fearful of the infusion of technology to the human mind. But are the fears valid?
Dr. Karol Krietmair, an assistant professor of medical history and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, stated “I don’t think there is sufficient public discourse on what the big picture implications of this kind of technology becoming available are.” She further added, “I worry that there’s this uncomfortable marriage between a company that is for-profit.” Isn’t all technology that we have today a marriage between humans and companies created by other humans for-profit?
Sure, the ethics surrounding technology such as Nueralink is uncharted territory, but isn’t that what living in a new world is all about? Many researchers are concerned about this technology meant to help people with disabilities being exploited. But isn’t exploitation the risk that comes with all businesses whether for-profit or not?
Researchers are also concerned with “all those human research subjects —people with genuine needs—are being exploited and used in risky research for someone else’s commercial gain,” Dr. Krietmair further added. But again I ask, isn’t that true for all business and innovating technologies presented to the human population for consumption and adaptation, like the internet, cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis, coal mining, gold mining, prescription medicines, airplanes, need I go on. Humans are always the Guinea Pigs. What technology or medicine today that humans use, engage in or consume in some way that is not being practiced and tested on us today by the creator or innovator? Only to later be discovered there are adverse affects,
Dr. Krietmair further added that Nueralink’s technology could be “life-changing” for paralyzed people but she is concerned about the potential for consumer uses and she feels these consumer uses “raises such a slew of ethical concerns.”
Lastly some critics of Musk’s Nueralink are concerned that musk is a “carnival barker who’ll say anything and stop nothing to make a buck - which, well, fair. He’s been known to make lofty promises before only to grossly underdeliver before.” Isn’t that also a real possibility for anyone trying to create the future from nothing. Sometimes your ideas work and sometimes they don’t. Ask anyone who is a creator at heart.
Dr. Laura Cabrera, a neuroethics researcher at Penn State, chimed into the debate and said, “with these companies and owners of companies, they’re kind of showmen.” She further added, “they’ll make these hyperbolic claims, and I think that’s dangerous, because I think people sometimes believe it blindly.”
Only the future will tell whether Musk’s Nueralink has a a future and we all have to wait and see. Maybe there will be a marriage between the brain chip human interface technology that Musk is building and the metaverse being charted by Zuckerberg and others without the need for the bulky VR headset.
Only in passing time will we know.
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