The Elon Musk-backed brain implant company Neuralink aims to be a powerful accessibility tool for paralysed people. However, that accessibility focus is merely the start, as Musk hopes the Neuralink brain implant will merge humanity with AI.
As the technology starts human trials, experts are starting to speak up against Musk's plans for the future. Primarily, scientists are concerned about what data harvesting, just like every other aspect of Big Tech.
Scientists vs Neuralink brain implant
In a recent interview, assistant professor of medical history and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Karola Kreitmair expressed worry towards the future of brain implants. Specifically, Kreitmair was concerned about how Big Tech can use the technology to further exploit civilians.
“I don’t think there is sufficient public discourse on what the big picture implications of this kind of technology becoming available are,” the assistant professor said. “I worry that there’s this uncomfortable marriage between a company that is for-profit.”
Dr. Kreitmair’s worries are not unfounded. For example, while not as dystopian as brain implant tracking, Facebook metaverse technology could track eye dilation and heart beat responses to advertisements and other occurrences. But what happens when companies can track brain activity responses to those same events.
As part of the same interview, Center for Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University assistant professor, Dr. L. Syd Johnson, expressed similar worries. Johnson explained:
“If the ultimate goal is to use the acquired brain data for other devices, or use these devices for other things — say, to drive cars, to drive Teslas — then there might be a much, much bigger market. But then all those human research subjects — people with genuine needs — are being exploited and used in risky research for someone else’s commercial gain.”
A matter of ethics
When it comes to biotechnology, every product must be created with ethical guidelines in mind. For example, if future Neuralink brain implants can connect the brain to instant entertainment, should that be limited? Even if it is regulated, should it be available in the first place?
In the end, it all comes down to how much technology a human body should possess. If the mind is linked with AI in Musk's proposed future, how does that alter human thinking? At what age does a human get their implant?
Thankfully, for now, Neuralink brain implant technology is just for helping disabled people, a good use for brain implants. There's also no sign that brain implants will become an everyday part of society, no matter what sci-fi dictates.