Would you get a Neuralink brain chip?

What would make you get a Neuralink brain-computer interface? Most people respond with an automatic, “Nothing.”

But the assumption is that a brain chip would be unnecessary, a way to level up, to become smarter or stronger.

Here’s what we all suspect: Once everyone agrees to an implant, it’s only a matter of time before chips are getting hacked, commercials are mandatory, and money gets involved.

God forbid, let’s say you’re diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Your mind will deteriorate slowly until your wiring completely abandons you. But what if a brain-computer interface could preserve your memories and cognitive functionality? Or let’s say you’re paralyzed and getting a neural implant could restore any damaged nerves and allow you to move again.

This is the hope that led 30-year-old Noland Arbaugh to become the first human to receive a Neuralink brain-computer interface. A swimming accident damaged his spine, leaving him a quadriplegic. And so far, the technology has made life at least a little easier. The process hasn’t gone entirely smoothly, but the implant has given Noland more freedom of movement. He can also use his mind to play chess and Civilization 6.

Now, a second patient has been greenlit.

Only Homer Simpson would buy the first-generation flying car, right? Not if you’re desperate enough.

Here’s a hypothetical that is murkier than the previous two: What if your child died and you had the chance to download his consciousness and implant it into a brain-dead human? Or into some sort of android, when robotic technology is advanced enough?

For many of us, this isn’t a logical or moral dilemma but a spiritual one. Tackling dementia and paralysis concerns the restoration of a living body. But when death comes into the equation, we are forced to ask, “What about the soul?”

For decades, futurist Ray Kurzweil has balked at the idea that humans have souls that should be left alone, untouched by human hands. Who could have guessed that Kurzweil, like so many other brilliant nerds, would be toppled by Joe Rogan’s Socratic method?

As our own Peter Gietl put it, “Joe Rogan might be the perfect foil for a futurist and woo peddler like Kurzweil. He knows just enough about these subjects to be dangerous but also asks questions with an Everyman logic that is a perfect antidote to cut through the vague science this man spews.”

How can we understand evil within the context of artificial intelligence?

Maybe we shouldn’t be worried about artificial intelligence but rather artificial consciousness. Or, even more harrowing, artificial spirituality.

The boundaries of our social cosmos are already distinctly psychological. Where previous generations were afflicted by vast unknowables, comical ignorance, and inanimate technology, we’re lost in the squall of the digital unconscious, the connected brain, and data centrality — total interconnection by digital means. That’s without any devices implanted.

A brain chip is internal. Social media is external and much less invasive. Yet look at the damage that it has caused, to children specifically, affecting notions of play, body image in pre-teen and teenage girls, and even sexuality and ideas regarding gender.


Elon Musk
is calmly but direly urging us to start preparing for a world full of AI that’s smarter than us.

I’m a big fan of Elon and his role in what Jonathan Haidt has described as the “techno-democratic optimism” unique to America in relation to tech. But in this situation, it’s important to remember that the man owns the brain chip company.

We all know that the dignity of any revolutionary medical tech is at the very least vulnerable to abuse. Plastic surgery didn’t begin with breast implants.

Customization is an integral part of our new world. But where is the limit? What about genetic engineering? What about designer babies? These technologies are no longer plot devices in science fiction. It’s going to happen in real life, as people are increasingly willing to medicalize their lives.

Here’s what we all suspect: Once everyone agrees to an implant, it’s only a matter of time before chips are getting hacked, commercials are mandatory, and money gets involved.

We’re already witnessing widespread “de-materialization,” where physical objects are becoming obsolete as the world becomes increasingly digitized.

You see this in the subscription model. You used to own movies. If you didn’t, you rented a physical copy. Music used to be owned on physical media too. Now these items are accessed via subscription.

Then there are the political implications. The brain is the source of all human behavior. If someone figured out how to control it, he could manipulate society to his advantage, fiddling with our species’ most dangerous tendencies and habits.

We’ve moved past biopolitics — the elites’ control of our bodies. Now we live in an era of psychopolitics, where elites grip not just the politics, not just the body, but the total of the mind of citizens.

Neuro-technologic reality also changes immediately. No one can keep up any more. The transformation of our habits, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions is hard to prove and even harder to monitor. So why would we hand over our most important possessions — our brains — to a dubious invisible network, the same network that facilitates pornography and BuzzFeed?

The language of online is structured mostly as exclamatory and imperative slogans. Declarative statements often serve as a Trojan Horse of discourse that is actually combat.

It is part of the reason that everything seems so hard to resolve. The pace of life is daunting. We don’t even fully realize it. But we feel it. Things are different and we don’t know why.

Inject a silicon chip into your brain, and there’s no way to know how much it has changed you.

Our cultural illness is neuro-technological. It’s something we signed up for, and it sends constant updates. An automated disease manifested through emotion but guided by some unknown could lead or already has led to neuro-totalitarianism.

On the other hand, it would be cool to order DoorDash without having to move at all, so sign me up!

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