Elon Musk’s Neuralink is neuroscience theater (MIT Technology Review):
Rock-climb without fear. Play a symphony in your head. See radar with superhuman vision. Discover the nature of consciousness. Cure blindness, paralysis, deafness, and mental illness. Those are just a few of the applications that Elon Musk and employees at his four-year-old neuroscience company Neuralink believe electronic brain-computer interfaces will one day bring about.
None of these advances are close at hand, and some are unlikely to ever come about. But in a “product update” streamed over YouTube on Friday, Musk, also the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, joined staffers wearing black masks to discuss the company’s work toward an affordable, reliable brain implant that Musk believes billions of consumers will clamor for in the future.
“In a lot of ways,” Musk said, “It’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull, with tiny wires” … Although Musk claims implants “could solve paralysis, blindness, hearing,” as often what is missing isn’t 10 times as many electrodes, but scientific knowledge about what electrochemical imbalance creates, say, depression in the first place.
Despite the long list of medical applications Musk presented, Neuralink didn’t show it’s ready to commit to any one of them. During the event, the company did not disclose plans to start a clinical trial, a surprise to those who believed that would be its next logical step.
News in Context:
- Debate: Will brain-computer interfaces replace smartphones and other mediating devices?
- Kernel launches Neuroscience as a Service (NaaS) built on non-invasive brain recording technology
- The NeuroGeneration and Humankind’s Quest to Enhance the Brain
- 10 neurotechnologies about to transform brain enhancement and brain health
- Neurotechnology can improve our lives…if we first address these Privacy and Informed Consent issues