Elon Musk’s Neuralink project irresponsible

Musk hatches plan to tap into human brain using humans as experiments


Steve Jurvetson

Elon Musk, the man behind Neuralink, expressing his dreams for the future to Chris Anderson during a Ted Talk

Samantha Jones, Staff Writer

Elon Musk’s new company, Neuralink, which includes sci-fi like technology embedded into a person’s brain to hopefully control everything, from learning a new language to telepathy, and while this seems incredible, the concerns of safety and privacy outweigh all of the potential benefits.

During a presentation at the California Academy of Sciences, Musk revealed that Neuralink has been making bluetooth-enabled implants in a user’s brain, which connect to computers worn behind the ear.

Neuralink has made the device to theoretically help paraplegics move which will be released for trial by the end of 2020, if approved by the FDA. While Musk said the first trial would be strictly for medical purposes, he hopes to be able to make a different version of the device to create almost complete merge humans with artificial intelligence.

He described a utopian world, where knowledge is at everyone’s fingertips, but the reality of the product is less ideal.

While this may seem incredibly useful prospective users should be more scared than excited about this prospect.

During his California Academy of Sciences presentation, Musk admitted the only testing done has been on rats and monkeys. Out of the 19 procedures completed, they only had an 87 percent accuracy when embedding the device, according to CNN. If Musk and his team cannot correctly complete the operation on animals, they should not be trusted to complete an operation on humans where the possible effects are almost completely unknown.  Even a 13 percent inaccuracy can have disastrous long-term consequences.

Chengyuan Wu, a neurosurgeon at Jefferson University Hospital, told Popular Science that one false move could result in permanent injury such as paralysis, or even death.

There is also the concern of privacy. If these devices were to work how Musk envisions, all of the data collected could have the possibility of ending up getting leaked to third parties. Privacy International, a charity that protects against surveillance and exploitation, has raised worries about who has access to the data. Companies would benefit greatly from having these kinds of personal information. Even if the data was only available to Neuralink, if security was breached, data ranging from passwords, to credit card and social security numbers, to personal conversations could be leaked.

RedLock security firm has stated Tesla, one of Musk’s companies, was breached as recently as 2018, where dozens of pictures and videos of Tesla’s manufacturing equipment were sent to unknown third parties, along with Tesla’s financial records. Musk and his companies are clearly not ready to handle that kind of responsibility as of now.

Musk and Neuralink need to wait. Neuralink should complete more trials on animals first and get their accuracy rates higher before they start human testing.

Security has to be heightened to prove they can keep data safe from hackers and companies looking for personal information.

The FDA must stop Neuralink from testing until they can prove themselves safe, like any other medical device.

As for consumers, they should not try this until accuracy is at least 95 percent, to avoid physical damage and when Musk’s other companies are able to keep data secure for at least five years, if not more. Neuralink is in over its head and society needs to take a second look at this invention.