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Neuralink, and the end of humanity
Neuralink is a company created by Elon Musk that aims to make brain-machine interfaces. They just released a presentation detailing their progress so far, and it looks like they've come quite far ahead. Human trials are planned for next year, 2020.
The idea is to implant thousands of tiny electrodes (thinner than a human hair) deep into the brain, and connect them to a wireless chip that sits behind your ear, which in turn will talk to software on your iPhone.
They're first marketing this primarily to disabled people, as a way to help them restore some kind of brain functionality that they're missing, or be able to control a computer or phone without the need to actually touch it.
Black Mirror is a TV show that showcases technology gone wrong, or technology taken too far. Each episode is a (largely) standalone story in a shared high-tech dystopian future. People like Elon Musk and initiatives like Neuralink are bringing us closer to that dystopia. In their arrogant march forward where the pace of technological growth far outstrips the pace of biomedical health research, legal protections, and philosophical wisdom on how to use that technology (and indeed whether it should even exist), they're ensuring the destruction of humanity. I'm not anti-technology, after all, I'm typing this on a computer. But I do believe that technology should primarily serve and benefit mankind, not be detrimental.
There are some conceivable positives that can come from this technology, but I'm going to focus on the negatives, since of course Neuralink won't mention those.
There are immense privacy implications to a technology like this. Since these chips in your brain will be "read/write" as Elon Musk says, they will be able to both read your thoughts and also alter your thoughts. If privacy scandal after privacy scandal (seemingly every month these days) isn't enough to convince you that using modern technology is, although convenient, a major loss of privacy, just imagine what Facebook, the NSA, and others wouldn't do to get access to your thoughts once this chip is on the market.
Forget about having secrets. This is full transparency. And nothing Neuralink promises with regards to data privacy will work to stop a hacker from gaining access. Right now the data leaks include names, hobbies, interests, phone numbers, addresses, social security numbers, etc., Tomorrow they're going to include all of your thoughts.
This is bad enough even if a person consents to having one of these chips implanted into their brain, but what about the people that don't consent? What happens when the government decides that the best way to prevent crime is to implant these chips into all criminals when they're released from prison, so that they can be temporarily paralyzed (remember, these chips have the ability to write data to the brain too) just before committing a crime? Criminals, particularly felons, have almost no rights in many countries, especially the US. Yet you can be a felon for a non-violent crime. It wouldn't be hard for the government, 20 years from now, when these chips have been normalized through propaganda and adoption, to convince people that criminals are a sufficient danger to society as to not require their consent to implant these.
The next step would be interrogation of suspects. Are you a suspect in a crime? Are you not confessing to the satisfaction of the interrogator? Perhaps it's time to temporarily place a chip in your brain and download all your thoughts and memories.
And what about governments like China? The Chinese Communist Party would have no qualms installing such technology into all of its citizens brains, without their consent. After all, they're harvesting the organs of about 100,000 Chinese citizens every year in military hospitals without their consent. They've also placed 2 million people in concentration camps as of today. You think they won't put brain implants into their citizens to ensure compliance with the goals of communism?
I've mentioned that these chips are "read/write", as Elon Musk says in his presentation.
That means if a malicious person were able to insert malware into the iPhone software controlling the chip (or into the chip itself, it is, after all, wireless), they could literally control the minds of people with this implant through malware. Everything gets hacked sooner or later. There is no 100% secure system. Besides, perhaps, not putting one of these into your brain in the first place.
Propaganda on TV and social media is bad enough, but at least you can, in theory, detect it and put up a mental filter when you see BS on the news. What happens to the political process when millions of people's thoughts can be subtly altered without them even noticing?
There are by now hundreds of reputable studies showing the ill effects of EMFs, or Electro-Magnetic Fields on the human body. Your phone really does cause cancer. Mainstream, captured government agencies are still largely in denial about this because it would be bad for business if Apple had to put cancer warning labels on their phones. I'll write an article and cite some studies on this topic in the future. But do your own research and you'll quickly discover the truth. Here's a good starting point.
But if having a microwave-emitting chip (or several chips, as it were, since, bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular chips are all independent) near you is bad enough, can you imagine what having such a chip radiating right next to your brain will be like? And then, consider that the chip will be connected through thousands of electrodes into your brain, with each electrode acting as a mini-antenna, radiating the electromagnetic waves directly into your brain cells. In the video itself, they admit that the brain is a bio-electro-chemical machine, that uses electrical stimuli to release chemicals and communicate between neurons. There are now dozens of studies showing how non-ionizing EMF affect human health because EMF from your phone, laptop, etc., are triggering the release of these chemicals in unplanned ways.
Will you trade having a closer connection to your computer in exchange for brain cancer and dementia?
It is sad and ironic that Elon Musk, the same man who complains about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence technology, has no problem creating a technology that is possibly even worse, and could truly spell the end of humanity. No doubt he considers this technology as a "counterweight" to AI. If humans can become as smart as AI by integrating with machines, then AI would be less of an existential danger to us.
Instead, I fear this technology will spell the end of privacy, freedom, and eventually be one of the causes of the extinction of the human species. After all, one of the primary documented health effects of EMFs is infertility.