LIBBY EMMONS: Neuralink Seeks to Transform Human Beings Into Simply Another Data Port in the Internet of Things

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Neuralink is coming, and it won’t be pretty. The device, which offers miracle cures for paralysis, also ushers in a new era of human-to-machine interface that has so far primarily been the dark fantasy of dystopian fiction.

The idea is a noble one, and it belongs to that purveyor of grand ideas, Twitter, SpaceX, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Twitter may usher in a free speech revolution, Space X promises to normalize consumer space travel, Tesla offers self-driving cars, but Neuralink offers an evolution into a new kind of human.

The human of Neuralink is neither human nor machine but a hybrid, and combination of thoughts and gears, for whom thoughts do not generate only from the mind, but can be generated externally, by a device plugged into the brain and affecting internal intellectual interactions.

The device is straightforward enough, and the implications for the disabled are rather staggering. Neuralink is a brain-computer interface, or BCI. At present, human beings interface with computers through the intermediary of both the human body and the computing device. We type with our fingers onto a keyboard, we see the computer screen with our eyes, the body remains separate from computer, and computer stands alone from human being.

With Neuralink, those intermediaries of body and device are done away with, and what remains is a direct connection between thought and data. While the current interface allows information only to be input one way, i.e. humans input commands to a computer, Neuralink will allow two-way communication.

Just as a smart fridge can communicate with local supermarkets and let you know where you can go to restock your soy milk and avocados, Neuralink will be able to communicate with your thoughts to provide data that you have thought of, perhaps, but not sought out. The obvious example of this would be the grand scale of something we already experience, such as doing an internet search for an item only to then be bombarded with ads for that item across social media platforms, but it could also be far more insidious.

Imagine a dissident in an oppressive nation thinking about the best ways to protest Covid lockdowns, for example, such as the Freedom Convoy protestors did in Canada, or the White Paper Revolutionaries in China. Imagine this person coming up with ways to protest, only to have censors tracking Neuralink interfaces to find that person, and then target them with alternative data to veer them into another direction. 

By Libby Emmons

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