Founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Elon Musk has embarked on a new adventure involving a brain-computer interface with multiple functions. Mr Musk is about to reveal new information about the mysterious start-up Neuralink and, as usual, couldn’t help but post a few details on his Twitter account over the past few days.
Replying to the computer scientist Austin Howard on Twitter, Musk confirmed that the technology he was working on would allow users to “listen to music directly from our chips.” He also stated that Neuralink technology “could help control hormone levels and use them to our advantage”, claiming that this could be used to “enhance abilities and reasoning, and for anxiety relief.”
Neuralink has made only one public presentation on how its technology works since it was founded in 2016. However, at an event in 2019, Musk said his new company was developing a “sewing machine-like device”. This device, which sounds like something from an episode of Black Mirror, would be able to establish a direct connection between a chip inserted within the brain and a computer.
Evidence suggests that Neuralink technology could initially be used to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. However, its ultimate objective is to allow humans to compete with advanced artificial intelligence by creating “augmented” humans. One could argue that this goal is related to transhumanism, a movement that seeks to enhance the cerebral and physical capacities of human beings with the help of technoscience.
Last week, another Twitter user asked Musk about the chip’s capabilities. He tweeted, “Can Neuralink be used to retrain the part of the brain which is responsible for causing addiction or depression? It’d be great if Neuralink can be used for something like addiction/depression”. Mr Musk replied “For sure. This is both great and terrifying. Everything we’ve ever sensed or thought has been electrical signals. The early universe was just a soup of quarks and leptons. How did a very small piece of the universe start to think of itself as sentient?” The entrepreneur also stated that the procedure to implant the chip would be something like getting laser eye surgery.
Last weekend, Musk appealed to anyone with expertise in wearables to consider joining the company. “If you’ve solved hard problems with phones/wearables (sealing, signal processing, inductive charging, power management, etc.), please consider working at [Neuralink],” he tweeted.
Will this ambitious and somewhat unsettling technology pave the way for new ways of listening to music? In any case, animal tests have already begun and human trials are planned to start later this year, although the exact date has not been made public.