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2023: hardwiring your brain to the Metaverse

A bunch of these tiny chips may be placed on your brain by a robot to connect it to a computer, and on to the web. Image credit: Neuralink

Neuralink has been working on connecting the brain to a computer for some years now. It has made a number of announcements over the past two years demonstrating the workability of their ideas and prototypes on animals (to take a look at their technology watch the clip).

Now they are seeking FDA approval to move into human clinical trials as soon as 2023. Their short term goal is to let paralysed  or stroke-impaired people to connect seamlessly with a computer or a smartphone (and from there on to the web). Restoring the ability to communicate (using synthetic voice) and move would indeed be a tremendous improvement for many people.

During the presentation Elon Musk, the founder of Neuralink, hinted that as many as 4 chips, each equipped with hundreds of sensors to pick up electrical signals from nearby neurones, could be implanted and they would able to communicate wirelessly with a computer/smartphone (although he did not elaborate on how these chips can be powered).

The implant will be made by a robot with a procedure that, according to Neuralink, would be very easy and painless.

Interestingly, he also stated that the long term goal is to create a symbioses between the brain and the computer merging human intelligence with artificial intelligence. This is a really “long” term goal, both in terms of feasibility and, I feel, in terms of acceptance. How many people would be willing to go along with that?

Also, this will open up deep, and significant, ethical questions. Would these merging of intelligence provide an unfair advantage? Would some people be required to have the implant to apply for some jobs? Would that “merging” result in a different “I”?

As it is happening in genomics, bio-engineering and artificial intelligence are taking us into uncharted territories.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.