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Company I’m simultaneously disturbed and thrilled by: Neuralink
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company, founded in 2017 by Elon Musk, which is working on creating brain machine interfaces. More specifically, they are making a chip that can be implanted into one’s brain and used to treat neurological disorders. Their ultimate goal is to telepathically link humans with computers.
Though this may seem somewhat far fetched, similar types of technology have already been used in the treatment of ailments such as Parkinson’s disease. The video below shows the dramatic improvement that a therapeutic brain implant can have on a patient with Parkinson’s.
However, the technology that neuralink is not only intended to treat diseases. As mentioned above, the company eventually planning on using its chips to enhance human capabilities by linking us to our smartphone, computers, and the internet.
My feelings on this company/technology are very strong, and very mixed, for several reasons. For one, it is undeniable that much of who we are and what we do results from activity within the brain. The prevailing view among most of academia is that all of who we are and what we do results from this activity. Therefore, we could theoretically influence every aspect of our beings using this type of technology. On the plus side, speech impediments, blindness, deafness, memory loss, depression, anxiety, and an extensive list of other ailments could be partially or entirely done away with.
On the flip side, we have already managed to turn rats into remotely controlled puppets by putting similar devices into their brains, as described in this Harvard study. It isn’t hard to imagine a future in which more advanced iterations of this technology could be used by nefarious organizations to influence human thought and movement. That’s not the type of future I want to live in. That said, if someone told me they could put a chip in my mind that would reduce or eliminate all my anxiety and neuroses, and make it so that I had perfect memory, was consistently the funniest person in the room, and could learn significantly faster than any non-enhanced person, I might find it difficult to resist. Though we are still probably a few decades from that level of brain machine interface being available, we are a lot closer than most people think, as the videos below show.
Highlights from Neuralink’s recent presentation:
Some reading recommendations for those of you who want to learn more about Neuralink and brain machine interface technology:
Elon Musk’s Neuralink unveils device to connect your brain to a smartphone
Paralyzed Man Uses Thoughts to Move a Cursor
A fantastic group presentation on the therapeutic applications of psychedelics
For over a decade, institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and the Imperial College London have been conducting research on psychedelics as a treatment for anxiety and depression. The results of this research, described in the video below, have been nothing short of profound. For what is, in my mind, the coolest part of the discussion, skip to 4:11.
“I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
– Elon Musk
“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.”
– Millar Fuller
A few night photographs shot by my very talented friend Chase Schober (Instagram: chaseschoberphotography)