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Elon Musk Has Killed Over 1,500 Animals But Thinks He Can Install a Smartwatch in Your Skull in Six Months?
The man who can't build a self-driving car wants to be in the driver's seat of your brain
Last December, I saw an article I haven’t been able to get out of my head.
Yahoo News — not one to hire any writer with a milligram of original inspiration — posted the news with an SEO title that leaves much to be desired:
Basically, twenty-ish current and former employees claim Musk pushed them to speed up the development of Neuralink, his computer-to-brain interface, causing thousands of botched experiments. Since 2018, Neuralink has killed roughly 1,500 animals, presumably mostly rats and mice, but at least 280 sheep, pigs, and monkeys.
Despite lofty ambitions to build a “Monkey Disneyland” and “Monkey Taj Mahal,” the poor simians are not faring well under the alpha silverback Musk. The mistakes are pretty awful — wrong-sized implants, wrong surgical glue, implanting on the wrong vertebra, loose screws, on and on. These experiments have led poor monkeys to experience “bloody diarrhea, partial paralysis, and cerebral edema… bloody discharges, fungal and bacterial infections,” uncontrollable shaking, brain bleeds, and more. For dear Monkey 15, “The Neuralink implants left parts of her cerebral cortex focally tattered.”
But not as horrifying as the key line in the article:
“Such problems could potentially delay the company’s bid to start human trials, which Musk has said the company wants to do within the next six months.”
Don’t get me wrong, Neuralink is making some progress — they managed to get one monkey to play a game of Pong with his brain instead of his hands — but this is the same Musk who said in 2015 that we’d be puttering around in self-driving cars by 2017.
He later Tweeted nonchalantly, “Didn’t expect it to be so hard, but the difficulty is obvious in retrospect.”
In 2019, “he said he felt very confident that, by 2020, Tesla owners who bought the pricey Full Self-Driving option would be able to dispatch their cars as robotaxis and rake in passive income from their couches.”
In 2021 it was “this year.”
In 2022, it was “this year.”
In July he predicted 2023 would be the year, but with Christmas just seven-ish weeks away, P.T. Barnum lives to woo another day.
Musk’s track record suggests three things:
He is wildly overconfident in his technology.
He dangerously underestimates time-frames.
Other people pay the cost of his mistakes.
In other words: human trials for a computer chip implant in a homo sapien brain this early could lead to serious injuries, irreversible brain trauma, paralysis, and death.
But Musk doesn’t care.
He’s going full-speed ahead with human trials, announcing earlier this fall that they’re now recruiting “guinea pigs” for human clinical trials.
He’s looking for people who are desperate enough to risk it all:
“Those who have quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may qualify.”
I’m not saying humanity shouldn’t work on cures and modalities and technologies to help people with serious handicaps like ALS.
I’m just saying that people will get hurt and die if we allow people like Elon Musk to proceed at his hurried pace.
(A little hint that failure might be looming: After the FDA raised safety concerns, Neuralink negotiated a lower number of trial patients. Meaning even if the trials do succeed, we won’t have a very large sample size.)
Lives should matter more than his company’s profitability.
Plus, there are serious questions that need to be asked first.
Musk’s stated plan is for Neuralink to help people with diseases or disabilities like congenital blindness. He’s also said it could be used to treat “obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.” These are definitely laudable goals.
But does anyone think that’s where brain-chipping ends?
Elon Musk’s exact quote is:
“It’s like replacing a piece of your skull with a smartwatch, for lack of a better analogy.”
Great. Because social media and porn have been working wonders for the mental health and wellbeing of the next generation.
Let’s just ram a device in their skulls so marketers can advertise to them 24/7.
Let’s let corporations and governments — which already spy on all your writing, searching, audio, and video via your phone — now also spy on your thoughts and physical movements.
Friends, at the end of the day, this sort of trans-human technology is actually about control.
Neuralink’s own video says:
“Neuralink measures the ape’s brain activity…an algorithm then uses this data to predict the monkey’s intended movements. This happens in real-time.”
Amazon already knows women are pregnant before they do, and political manipulators like Cambridge Analytica have so many data points on their unsuspecting rubes that they can herd them like sheeple to vote for clowns like The Donald. Real-time emotion-monitoring is a whole other level.
Let’s say you no longer need a smartphone because it’s implanted in your brain. Be honest:
Will your sleep and health improve or get worse?
Will you be more or less depressed by the news and social media comparison?
Will you be more or less connected to nature?
Will you experience more or less embodied intimacy and friendship with others?
Will you be more or less content with life, or will the push notifications leave you in a perpetual state of disappointment and covetousness?
Will you be more or less at risk of being hacked?
Will you be more or less at risk of a brain injury?
I see no scenario in which the benefits of a web-brain interface outweigh the costs for the vast majority of humanity.
Corporations will weaponize it for profit from Day One, but how long before governments weaponize it for total control?
What happens when they start literally reading your mind?
This is a surveillance and security nightmare.
I can see Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping making this mandatory for all citizens.
I can definitely see a sociopath like Suella Braverman making it mandatory for immigrants and criminals if she’s ever (s)elected as UK Prime Minister.
And what happens when a poor person can no longer afford the inevitable monthly payment to keep, maintain, or upgrade their brain chip?
As one Redditor put it:
“God help us when Brain Implant Repo Men become a thing.”
This technology will change the world, and not for the better.
The acclaimed biographer Walter Isaacson, in his new biography on Musk, ends with an apt observation:
“Sometimes great innovators are risk-seeking man-children who resist potty training. They can be reckless, cringeworthy, sometimes even toxic. They can also be crazy. Crazy enough to think they can change the world.”
But “changing the world” isn’t enough.
Hitler and Stalin changed the world.
Big Oil changed the world.
Steve Jobs changed the world.
Islam is changing the world.
Corporatism is changing the world.
Clearly, not all change is a net positive for humanity.
But that won’t stop Musk.
Hubris — wreckless human pride —or perhaps an unfathomable naivety, drives Elon to continually predict self-driving cars are just a software update away, and even though more than a thousand animals have died horrific deaths due to Neuralink’s botched trials, believe desperate humans will somehow fare better.
But worse than that is his belief that humans need to stop being a biological species and become a technological species.
This is a deeply anti-human lie.
In truth, what he’s actually proposing is the beginning of a new online “race” — homo digitalis, whose vast computing power and advancement could eventually exterminate homo sapiens, putting an end to the human experiment.
Humans are made in the image of God.
Elon Musk wants to re-make humans in his image.
I say we remain proudly and unapologetically biological.
It’s what makes us human, after all.
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