Turning into cyborgs

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Don’t mind me, I’m just trying to get the jump on Wait But Why.

So… Elon Musk announced his new company, called Neuralink. We don’t know precisely what their product is, but we know enough to start getting very excited about it. Or, for some people, to start getting scared of it for no reason.

Basically, it will be about creating new technologies for brain-computer interfaces. In short, implants that would allow you to have some control over computers and other devices with your brain, instead of using a keyboard or mouse, for example. The company also plans on doing research for future tech for brain cybernetic upgrades, like extra memory. Pretty close to what I’ve mentioned near the end of this older post.

I would definitely want that, provided that it matches a couple conditions of mine.

First, there can be no negative important side effects. This means that I won’t go and be a lab rat for the first version (I bet many people will volunteer anyway), because I want to know about the side effects beforehand, to be able to make an informed decision as to how much it’s worth it.

Second, it can’t hurt my “vanilla” abilities. This means that, if one day it stops working for no reason, I must be able to function as I do now, without being dumber, until I can get it repaired or replaced. I wouldn’t buy a car if this meant no longer having the ability to walk by myself. Some situations (like being indoors) are more suited to walking than using the car, so even if the car is very useful, I want to keep the original ability. Obviously, having a car might lower my physical abilities, since I walk less, so I might end up being worse at walking long distances. But the car is not literally removing muscles from my legs, my choices are, so I’m the one to blame. So I’d want the implant to be possible to “turn off”, so that I can “exercise” my brain by myself too. If I have that option and I don’t use it, then it’s my problem.

And lastly, I will always believe ill-intentioned hackers to be infinitely more competent than any security team. This means that I will never have confidence in a product to not be hacked. I know that no matter what I do, my computer can get viruses, but it’s not a huge problem. If my brain gets any, it gets pretty important very quickly. This means that, unless those implants have been in use for decades without any such incident happening, I will refuse any implant that has any way to receive information from the outside.

More precisely, I’d love extra memory, extra calculation abilities, embedded zoom or magnifier, etc. Anything that could be provided locally, I’d probably take it. I would also love to be able to send signals, like turning on my computer or some programs with my brain, setting an alarm on my phone, etc. But only for functionalities where feedback is optional at worst, and non-existent at best. If the “turn on computer” signal didn’t work, I’ll just try again or do it manually. I do not want the chip to have any way to “know” if it worked, because that means receiving outside information. And anything receiving wireless information from anything else is vulnerable to hacking, even if extremely unlikely. When the stakes are that high, I tend to be extra careful. If your brain gets hacked, you can’t buy a new one, so you’re stuck with dick-enlargement pop-ups for the rest of your life.

Sadly, this also means no brain-internet for me. But I’m definitely open to the idea of internet-glasses, internet-helmets and internet-contact lenses. At least until someone figures out how to hack the human brain by producing specific color or sound patterns. At that point, I guess I’ll go back to books. Until then, we can enjoy the wonders of modern technology!