The concept and technology behind Neuralink are so far ahead of what we’ve grown accustomed to that it might as well be magic. Make no mistake Neuralink is happening and it’ll be here sooner than you think…
I remember the first time I heard about Neuralink. I thought it was a joke or something far off in the future. Then I heard Elon Musk was behind it and immediately knew that this bonkers technology would be with us a lot sooner than any of us imagined.
The concept of Neuralink is simple: you have a chip implanted in your brain and with this chip, you can control things – computer games, applications, your phone, beam thoughts to other Neuralink users. Elon has even demoed the tech working inside a monkey’s head.
Is Neuralink Actually Real?
Neuralink is very, very real. So real, in fact, that you can now see Neuralink in action inside a monkey’s head. This happened back in 2020. The men in white coats at Neuralink installed its N1 chip inside a monkey’s head to see if it would work. The results were outstanding.
Elon Musk posted the results to Twitter: a monkey playing the computer game pong using only the power of its mind. Now, a monkey playing a computer game is impressive. But a monkey playing a computer game WITH ITS MIND is frankly insane.
Every time I think about Neuralink, it always reminds me of that famous Arthur C Clarke quote: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.
Usually, whenever this quote is arbitrarily chucked around, it doesn’t make sense. A phone is still a phone, regardless of how many new gizmos it has – it doesn’t feel like magic. But when a monkey is playing video games with its brain, the quote works just fine. In fact, it feels like this is exactly the kind of thing Mr. Clarke had in mind when he wrote it.
When Do Neuralink’s Human Trials Begin?
Elon Musk has already unleashed his N1-powered monkey on the world, and given the similarities between a monkey’s brain and ours, this is hugely promising for Neuralink’s future prospects. To date, however, there have been no human trials. But Neuralink now has the FDA more or less signed off on it doing them.
Elon Musk says human trials of Neuralink will begin during 2020, although we’re now in the back end of 2020 and, thanks to COVID, this timeline is potentially a little off. What’s more likely is the first human test of Neuralink taking place in 2021. They’ve already installed it in pigs and monkeys, so the first human to run Neuralink will likely be doing it at some point before the close of 2022.
Neuralink isn’t just about playing games with your mind, though, so don’t think about it like that. Neuralink has the potential to bring back eyesight, help people in wheelchairs walk again, and wireless beam your thoughts into another person’s head. You will also be able to interact with machines, things like cars and your phone, as well as things around your home. All from the comfort of your own cranium.
This is potentially reality-bending technology. Neuralink is so different, so alien to what we’re used to, it’d be a bit like going back in time and giving Einstein an iPhone. Despite his immense intellect and knowledge, it’d blow his mind – in a good way, most likely. And this is why, when Neuralink’s release gets closer, there will be A LOT of controversy surrounding it.
Elon Musk is messing around with the very thing that we hold most dear, our minds, and consciousness. Not everybody is going to be cool with this kind of thing. But from the perspective of medical science, where Neuralink will initially focus its product, the potential for the technology is immense. Musk claims it will bring back sight, hearing, and help those with spinal injuries walk again.
And if that’s the case, I’m all for Neuralink. But I do think it’ll probably take decades before consumers start warming up to the idea of letting mega corporations inside their heads just for the fun of it. I could be wrong, and I know a bunch of social media influencers will get it as soon as it is available, but for the average Joe – people like you and I – it’ll either be too creepy or too expensive. Mostly both.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.