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Musk’s NeuraLink aims to cure the permanently impaired

Elon Musk has finally shed some light on his mysterious brain computer implant Neuralink, declaring that the project could cure the permanently impaired in the near future.

In typically hyperbolic fashion, serial entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk stepped on stage in San Francisco last week bearing a grand announcement. Neuralink, the ‘brain computer’ interface with alleged mind-control and telepathic abilities has transformed from cryptic rumour into flagship venture for Musk, and the potential sounds incredible.

After a whopping $158 million (with $100 coming from the man himself) invested in the project, Neuralink has developed their first batch of prototype implants which Musk claims will be able to ‘read our minds’.

Comprised of thousands of electrodes thinner human hair, these implants will be housed within the brain to work in symbiosis with our regular thought patterns and processes. These electrodes will relay signals to an AirPod-like device mounted behind the ear which can connect to smartphone/computer apps, essentially allowing the user to control their interface of choice by thought alone.

Anyone else picturing Deus Ex’s Adam Jensen?

While our greedy default state instantly makes us think of potential for more seamless forms of entertainment, the application of the technology goes far beyond that. So wait your turn layabouts!

According to Dr. Matthew McDougall – Neuralink’s head neurosurgeon – human clinical trials are coming as early as 2020, and the team are currently working on an assortment of chips to target specific medical diseases and to potentially cure physical impairments seen as untreatable or inoperable today.

The first trials will target patients with complete body paralysis and will require the installation of four implants. These will (theoretically) allow quadriplegics to independently operate prosthetic limbs like an able-bodied person.

It doesn’t stop there either. The increased sensory feedback from these implants could conceivably restore a blind person’s vision, a hypoesthesia sufferer’s sense of touch, while eradicating neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, epilepsy, tinnitus, and dystonia completely from the modern world.

It doesn’t just have uses for physical conditions either. Through altering neuro impulses in the hypothalamus – the principal area for controlling behaviour and mood – we could treat debilitating mental health disorders such as depression, OCD, bi-polar, schizophrenia, and anxiety far more effectively than modern medicine and therapy, by combatting issues at their origin.

While this technological revolution is obviously incredibly exciting, it’s also unnerving for some. The elimination of suffering entirely (a now plausible prospect) would lead to a dystopia of its own kind. Imagine everyone walking around oblivious to pain and grief, we would in essence be taking away a large part of what makes us human.

It could spawn something of a divide between those who welcome change and those that find the very concept intrinsically wrong. People’s religious ideologies will spark heated discussions online as Musk essentially ‘plays god’.

Although we’re living in more progressive times, the stigma attached to physical disability hasn’t been entirely eradicated either, and this radical shift could open up a can of worms for these unfortunate victims of circumstance and fate, inadvertently providing bigoted individuals with a new angle for ignorant tirades.

Fortunately, it seems we’re a way off of being able to pop computer chips in our noggins. This means we’ll have time to consider and legislate for all potential issues that will come with their integration.

Even for Musk, the walking talking personification of optimism (unless we’re talking about AI), a premarket trial will take a minimal observation period of two years, more likely up to seven, and he’ll need volunteers in triple figures.

Would you volunteer to be one of the first? Let us know in the comments.

 

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