Real-world Black Mirror: Thousands Express Readiness to Implant Elon Musk’s Neuralink Chip in Their Brains

Technology

In a scenario reminiscent of a “Black Mirror” episode, thousands of people have indicated their readiness to undergo the implantation of Neuralink’s brain chip—a brain-computer interface (BCI) project led by Elon Musk. Here are the specifics

In a development reminiscent of a “Black Mirror” episode, thousands of individuals have expressed their willingness to undergo the implantation of Neuralink’s brain chip, a brain-computer interface (BCI) project led by Elon Musk. This information is disclosed in a recent report by Ashlee Vance, a biographer closely following Musk’s ventures.

Founded by Musk in 2016, Neuralink aims to advance brain-machine interfaces, with plans to conduct surgeries on 11 individuals in the coming year and a target of over 22,000 by 2030. Vance, who visited Neuralink facilities multiple times over three years, shared these insights. However, the journey to this point has been challenging. Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Neuralink approval to initiate human trials for its revolutionary device, described by Musk as a “Fitbit in your skull.” Initially rejected by the FDA, concerns were raised about the movement of wires connected to the brain chip and the risk of overheating.

In September, the company initiated the recruitment process for its first human trial, seeking individuals with paralysis in all four limbs due to conditions like spinal cord injuries or ALS. Neuralink ultimately aims to seamlessly integrate humans and machines, enabling activities such as message transmission and gaming through mere thought. However, the immediate focus is on assisting those with neurological disorders.

Despite the interest from thousands of potential candidates, Vance reveals that Neuralink is still searching for its inaugural volunteer, someone willing to undergo a craniectomy—removing a portion of their skull by a surgeon—followed by the insertion of electrodes and ultra-thin wires into the brain, all performed by a robot. According to Vance, the surgery takes a few hours for the surgeon and around 25 minutes for the robot to complete. The thin threads used in the procedure are about 1/14th the width of a human hair strand.

Neuralink has conducted 155 implantation surgeries on various animal subjects, including pigs and monkeys, using the robotic system. However, Musk’s pursuit of efficiency and his aspiration for surgeries to be conducted without human assistance highlight the groundbreaking yet controversial nature of this endeavor. As technology continues to bridge the gap between the human mind and machines, the ethical and societal implications of these advancements remain subjects of ongoing scrutiny and debate.

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