Everyone loves Elon Musk. He is quirky, likable, and makes many outlandish claims about the potential of his companies. His latest claims, on behalf of company Neuralink, are that you can look forward to browsing the net via your brain. Yes; no longer will you need an external device to enjoy all your favourite online pokies, your brain will do just fine.
It’s the sort of claim that really drives home a feeling of living in a science fiction future. In fact, there is hardly anything that screams science fiction more than computers integrated directly into brains. But lest we forget this is Elon Musk, and it isn’t exactly as if the man has a solid track record for not blowing things out of proportion.
For example, his underground monorail system proposed via the Boring Company was massively overhyped for what was eventually decided on as the ‘final product’. If you weren’t keeping track, his previous claims of underground pods that carried 16-20 passengers at 120mph, in fully automated pods, fell flat very quickly. A recent demonstration was universally panned, where it was revealed that the 120mph automated pods had been replaced by human piloted 52mph Tesla cars. Plus; it was now only accessible to the very rich, not the public. Hooray?
Another Musk Fabrication?
In a recent live stream Musk once again touted the abilities of Neuralink. A system that, according to him, will see a small chip inserted into a brain. Then, via apparent computer magic he didn’t divulge, stimulate the brain, allowing direct access to the Internet. You might first say; cool! But after some thought you might then say; hey, wait a second, how?
Where the information is supposed to be ‘viewed’ on the human end of the connection isn’t exactly clear. On the inside of the eyeballs? Will the information perhaps appear in the user’s memory? None of it was even vaguely explained, leading a great many to speculate that Musk is once again blowing hot air. Not that you would assume so, given how enthusiastic he was. According to him the chip implants would be starting next year.
Leading Neuroscientists have been quick to call the claims ‘hokum.’ Thomas Stieglitz, from the Department of Biomedical Microtechnology, simply declared that it was all too good to be true, and nothing more than stories from science fiction.
Far Fetched Miracle Science?
But as we all know, Musk thumbs his nose at what is commonly thought to be possible. Simple claims of receiving information via brain magic aren’t where he stopped. He further claimed that the brain-chip, which was 4×4 millimetres, would not only be 1000 times more effective than other electrode stimulation machines, it would also be used to treat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
If you’re wondering how it gets into your brain at this point, never fear. Musk says the process is not major; the equivalent of LASIK eye surgery. Though, of course, with the added risks of brain damage, brain inflammation, and permanent scarring. So, nothing like LASIK surgery at all, unless you consider your eye and brain on the same level of overall importance.
Scepticism aside, it certainly would be cool. Word is that Musk has sunk around $100 million into the project, and that although he hopes to start shoving chips into brains next year, the systems are still in their earliest stages. Considering how buggy Tesla cars are, though, we really hope he works out some of the major kinks before cutting open skulls.
Genius Or Conman?
No one will deny that Musk is taking risks, which is a good thing in the increasingly more suffocating corporate world. At least; that’s what fans like to say. But a closer look at Elon Musk will reveal that he is, more than anything, an impressive showman. Tesla cars are indeed cool, but also incredibly expensive. So as it stands, they are far from being the new, global wave of transport that was promised. There is still time, technically speaking, for Tesla vehicles to go global. But meanwhile, the Tesla Company, which is currently in financial dire straits, is his only real claim to fame. Everything else has been nothing but hot air.
Very interesting and impressive hot air, no doubt, but certainly not what would be called bankable. So based on this track record, volunteers would be taking serious risks allowing him cut open their skulls, jam chips into their heads, and grant them mental access to the internet.
Or as Mister Thomas Stieglitz pointed out; why would anyone risk experimental brain surgery when a touchscreen will do just fine? A good question. Or to put it another way; could we please amputate your feet so that we may attach roller-skates to your ankles? What, you just want to wear the roller skates on your feet? But that wouldn’t be futuristic.