Scientists Voice Concerns Over Elon Musk’s Brain Chip Implant Idea: Here’s Why

by Clayton Edwards

Earlier this week, social media users voiced their misgivings about Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain implant chip. They compared this venture to the dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror. This came after Musk announced that he was hiring a clinical trial director, taking Neuralink one step closer to human trials.

Elon Musk’s Neualink will develop chips to be implanted into people’s brains. This will allow them to have a direct mind-to-computer interface. As a result, the technology could allow those with disabilities to interact with their electronic devices. However, Musk previously stated that he has bigger goals for the chips. At one point, he hoped that Neuralink could allow people to achieve a kind of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.

Some scientists are worried that there are serious ethical implications with the new technology. A couple of those scientists shared their concerns with The Daily Beast earlier this week.

Scientists Are Concerned About Elon Musk’s Brain Chip Implants

Dr. L. Syd Johnson, an associate professor at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University is concerned about the trials. Dr. Johnson pointed out that the market for the brain chips would be small if Elon Musk only planned to design them for disabled persons and they would be expensive. “If the ultimate goal is to use the acquired brain data for other devices, or use these devices for other things – say, to drive cars, to drive Teslas – then there might be a much, much bigger market.”

If that is the case, she says, “All those human research subjects – people with genuine needs – are being exploited and used in risky research for someone else’s financial gain.”

Dr. Laura Cabrera researches neuroethics at Penn State and has concerns about Elon Musk’s brain chip implants. She worries about the safety of the technology. For instance, if something goes wrong or someone – a test subject or future consumer – wants their chip removed. Dr. Cabrera said that while “we’re really good at implanting” devices into the brain, safely removing them is a different story. “We really don’t have the technology to explant them,” she says.

The Daily Beast reported that scientists had a long line of unanswered questions. For instance, what happens if Elon Musk’s company goes bankrupt and people already have chips in their brains? What if he sells the company? How safe will users’ data be? Additionally, they wonder how long these devices would last and if the company would cover upgrades for study participants.

One Scientist Has Doubts

Dr. Johnson wonders if the startup even has the technology to do the things they claim they’ll be able to do. “If Neuralink is claiming that they’ll be able to use their device therapeutically to help disabled persons, they’re overpromising because they’re a long way from being able to do that.”

Time will tell if Elon Musk’s brain chip implants will improve the lives of countless people or be comparable to the unbreakable windows on the Cybertruck.