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Neuralink, is the future of humanity a threat to our privacy?

This week, the company Neuralink presented in public Noland Arbaugh, a 29-year-old American who became a quadriplegic eight years ago and who was implanted in January with its Telepathy chip . But let’s dig a little deeper into this company, its technology, and the implications it brings to the table.

What is Neuralink?

Neuralink is a company that develops Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) for people with paralysis, focusing on creating high-speed devices to connect the human brain with technology. Its primary mission is to revolutionize human communication and cognitive capabilities by bridging the human brain with technology, addressing neurological disorders, improving human cognition, and enabling seamless interaction with artificial intelligence.

Its brain interface is wholly implantable, cosmetically invisible, and allows for the control of computing devices from anywhere.

Neuralink’s leaders are Elon Musk, a co-founder; Mike Rubino, the CEO; and Shivon Zilis, the chief talent officer. Shivon is also the mother of Elon’s twins.

Neuralinkl_people Blog Salvador Vilalta
How does it work?

Neuralink’s technology works through the Implantation of a chip in the brain, enabling communication between the human brain and external devices. This device, called TelepathyIt is implanted precisely without touching veins or arteries, thanks to an intricate design performed by a robot surgeon in an operation that takes just under an hour and allows the patient to return home on the same day of the procedure, according to Musk.

Robot Neuralink Implante cerebral El Blog de Salvador Vilalta
Fuente: Neuralink

The chip’s flexible electrodes are connected to wires thinner than a human hair, facilitating data transmission and neural recording. This brain-machine interface enables two-way communication by interpreting neural activity or stimulating specific areas of the brain. The device is charged by induction like you would charge your smartphones and other devices that allow wireless charging.

Cjip Neuralink el Blog de Salvador Vilalta
Source: Neuralink
Neuralink's latest developments

In 2022, Neuralink announced that it had successfully implanted its chip in a monkey named Pager. The monkey was able to play a video game using only its mind.

On January 30, 2024 2023, the company announced that it had implanted its chip in the first human being, Noland Arbaugh. Do not miss this video published by the company this week in which the patient himself explains how his quality of life has improved after this implant.

Potential applications of Neuralink technology

Neuralink’s technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with technology. Some of the possible applications include:

  • Controlling electronic devices with the mind such as telephones and computers
  • Enable closer human-machine collaboration which would open the door to closer collaboration with artificial intelligence and thus smoother interaction with technology.
  • Cure neurological diseases such as paralysis and epilepsy or spinal cord injuries.
  • Improve human abilities such as memory and concentration.
  • Connect directly to the Internet and download information to our brain.

Neuralink’s technology is expected to achieve significant cognitive improvements, such as focus, memory and attention. By enabling direct communication between the human brain and external devices, Neuralink has the potential to enhance human cognitive capabilities. This improvement translates into greater efficiency in cognitive tasks, improved ability to concentrate, and strengthened memory.

Chip IA Blog Salvador Vilalta
Controversies surrounding Neuralink

Neuralink’s technology also generates significant controversy Some of the concerns include:

  • The health and safety risks of the implant.
  • The questioning of human-machine fusion
  • The possibility of technology being used to manipulate human behavior.
  • The ethical implications of connecting the brain to the Internet.
  • Those related to the privacy of individuals.
My personal opinion

Neuralink’s technology generates a mixture of fascination and apprehension in me. On the one hand, I am excited about its potential to improve our lives in many ways. The possibility of curing or alleviating neurological diseases such as paralysis, epilepsy, or Alzheimer’s disease is a dream that could become a reality. Even the idea of improving cognitive abilities such as memory or concentration opens up a huge world of possibilities.

My position is totally in favor of this technology if we focus it in the health field. Imagine a future where people with disabilities can regain mobility, vision or hearing. Think of the possibility of reversing or slowing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases that today are devastating.

However, I am aware of the risks associated with such powerful technology. The possibility of accessing a person’s innermost thoughts, their “mind” and “soul,” opens the door to a series of great ethical dilemmas.

At this point, we might ask who will control the brain data. Is there a black market for mental information? Could this technology be used to manipulate or control people?

The risk of mass surveillance, social control, or even the creation of a kind of “collective brain” controlled by a few is frightening. Can you imagine this information in the hands of politicians, technocrats, and other undocumented people? Undoubtedly the wettest dream you could ever imagine?

Science fiction novels such as William Gibson’s Neuromancer or science fiction movies such as the Matrix, allow us to visualize and reflect on this future. It is curious to see how this genre itself has already glimpsed all these years ago…

Have a good week!

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