Social media users swear that they’ve seen Elon Musk’s newest-designed technology in a dystopian television show before. Black Mirror, an anthology series from Netflix that went off the air in 2019, depicted Twilight Zone-style vignettes meant to underscore the dangers of technology run amok. But the series got a bit of a Twitter revival over the weekend when #BlackMirror began trending, thanks to Musk’s newest brain implant chip.
Musk, CEO and co-founder of technology company Neuralink (as well as Tesla and SpaceX), announced last week that he is hiring a clinical trial director to facilitate chip testing. The hire means that the company is close to testing the chips in humans. A 2011 episode of Black Mirror depicted a similar premise in which humans implanted chips into their brains.
Musk and his team have been prepping this technology for years, though he currently receives more press for his other endeavors. In a 2020 company presentation, Musk even directly correlated the brain chip with the Netflix series.
The Eccentric CEO Has Referenced Black Mirror before
“In the future you’ll be able to save and replay memories,” Musk said. “This is increasingly sounding like a Black Mirror, episode … Ultimately you could download them into a new body or a robot body.”
The 2011 episode of Black Mirror is one of the series’ most famous installments. Titled “The Entire History of You,” the episode depicted a brain implant device that allows people to record audiovisual memories. They could then re-watch them at a later time. In the show, the device also allowed users to edit or delete old memories.
Another episode from 2013 titled “Be Right Back” evoked similar consternation from dubious Twitter users. In that episode, a character downloads a life-like artificial intelligence into a real, physical body.
“The real-life Black Mirror episode is the fact we all watched Black Mirror and learned nothing,” one user wrote, ironically.
Neuralink has not responded to the minor blowback; though Musk, a well-known Twitter user with millions of followers, certainly knows about the viral comparisons.
According to Neuralink, the company’s brain-computer interface technology is designed to solve a number of physical limitations. Neuralink wants to improve conditions like blindness, paralysis, and hearing loss, the company says. Musk has previously said that his technology could allow smartphone users to control their devices with their minds faster than a person can even use their thumbs.
Musk Has Been in the News for a Very Different Reason Lately, Too
Elon Musk’s Starlink program, a system of satellites meant to provide wireless internet to the world, could provide much-needed support to the Tongan rescue effort.
On January 15, an underwater volcano erupted near the island nation of Tonga, sending a tsunami onto the country’s shores. The blast also ripped the country’s sole internet cable, which laid on the ocean floor. Now, the country does not have connectivity to the outside world; but Musk could potentially help.
“Could people from Tonga let us know if it is important for SpaceX to send over Starlink terminals?” he asked on social media platforms. Outsider will continue to update this story as it develops.