Musk credited with pursuing amazing technology but urged to seek wisdom, too

Musk credited with pursuing amazing technology but urged to seek wisdom, too

Musk credited with pursuing amazing technology but urged to seek wisdom, too

Elon Musk and his tech company Neuralink say they have tweaked and improved brain-implanted technology to help a quadriplegic but the leap in medical technology is causing inevitable debate over technology and ethics.

Neuralink announced nine months ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had green-lighted the company to being testing its brain-implant technology on human volunteers. This week, in a Twitter post, Musk posted an update that said the “initial results show promising neuron detection.”

The technology, which is not new, is called brain-computer interface, or BCI, according to the technology website Wired. BCI allows a paralyzed person to control a computer keyboard, for example, with their brains.

Musk's company, the Wire story said, has advanced that technology to a coin-sized device it has named Telepathy. 

David Prentice, a medical researcher at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, is experienced in the ethics of science and medicine, such as stem cell research. He tells AFN that Musk’s ground-breaking technology could lead to what once was considered a miracle cure. 

“There's a potential advantage to this technology, obviously, for paraplegics, people that have undergone strokes, people that have had various types of accidents,” he says of its potential.

One looming issue about the technology, Prentice advises, is over the research being conducted to control a computer, for example, or a smart phone, which sounds like a positive advancement in technology. The temptation for researchers behind that advancement, the medical ethicist warns, is to push the technology from a medical necessity that helps people to an upgrade, like a newer smart phone, for the sake of convenience.

Prentice, Dr. David (Charlotte Lozier Institute) Prentice

“If somebody who is now quadriplegic can control a computer with their mind,” he reasons, “wouldn't it be easier if I just had a chip inserted and that was my cell phone, and that was my way to control a computer, or connect to the Internet?”

Musk and Neuralink have moved society from the “science fiction realm” to something that is real and is happening right in front of us, Prentice concludes, but the most important thing they can give the public is  “complete transparency” so the public knows what is happening.  

“We need to be certain,” he says, “that people aren't trying to take control of other people.”