How the Neuralink Brain Chip Could Revolutionise Our World

Elon Musk has done it again. The world’s richest – and boldest man – has successfully implanted a chip into a human. So is he ready to blow our minds? In his own words, the patient is recovering, but the results are yet to be seen.

What seemed like science fiction a decade ago or a conspiracy theory a few years ago is now a reality, and we can’t tell whether we should be excited or fearful. So, before we make up our minds, what exactly is Neuralink’s brain chip?

What is Neuralink’s brain chip?

Neuralink was launched in 2016 as another ambitious endeavour by Elon, whose other projects include Tesla, underground transit transportation loops, and a colony on Mars.

As if all these were not enough, he founded Neuralink, a startup that experiments with brain-computer interfaces to help people with traumatic injuries operate devices using only their thoughts.

In 2019, Neuralink had already created the Telepathy implant. It is made of flexible “threads” that, when implanted in the brain, can read its signals and transmit them to an iPhone or a computer.

“Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal,” in Musk’s own words.

The Telepathy implant has since evolved into a brain chip the size of a coin that is implanted with robotic surgery in the skull. It carries ultra-thin wires roughly 20 times thinner than a human hair into the brain that develops a brain-computer interface (BCI).

The disk is designed to register and decode brain activity and send it over to a device such as a computer, a robotic arm, or a wheelchair through a common Bluetooth connection. It can basically enable individuals to control the device “just by thinking”.

How is Neuralink’s chip different from other BCIs?

Neuralink isn’t the only company experimenting with BCI. During the 1960s and 1970s, electrical stimulation was used to trigger or suppress aggressive behaviour in cats. In the early 2000s, monkeys were taught to move a cursor around a computer screen by thinking about it.

Today, a number of organisations and companies are also working in this area, including the US Military, the Chinese Government, Blackrock, Paradromics, and, of course, Meta, which is developing BCIs that pick up thoughts directly from your neurons and translates them into words.

The most advanced BCI is not Neuralink’s device, but BrainGate’s – as one of its wired devices can type 90 characters per minute or 1.5 characters per second.

So what makes Neuralink so special is not just the technology or even the wondrous Mr Musk, but the fact that the chip is implanted into the brain, as all other BCIs are non-invasive.

Implanted chips are not necessarily more advanced. In fact, Elon admitted during Recode’s Code Conference in 2016 that you don’t need to drill into your skull to insert a chip. You can go through the veins and arteries, as that provides a complete roadway to all of your neurons.

The dark side of Neuralink and BCI


The company was under federal investigation due to dead study animals and hazardous material transportation. Not to mention how dangerous it is to drill into a skull and implant a chip, especially since there are other ways to implant a chip.

Neuralink’s monkeys suffered horrendous fates, according to veterinary reports. One monkey’s device “broke off” during implantation, and then infections took hold after the monkey scratched and yanked the device until part of it was dislodged. Another monkey developed bleeding in her brain, with the implant leaving parts of her cortex “tattered.”

What’s more, the Department of Transportation is investigating the company over concerns that monkey brain implants may have been packaged and transported unsafely, potentially exposing people to pathogens.

There’s more to it than just how dangerous it is and how ethical it is. There are a number of companies developing technology that can tap into human brains to decode our thoughts, eroding mental privacy. Could this be the end of freedom?

Are we heading towards a dystopian future?

Initially, Neuralink’s goal was to help those who had lost the use of their limbs, as is the primary goal of all BCI and bionics companies, and there are many which are successful. But in the long run?

Musk’s ambition is “to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” He aims to create a technology that allows humans to “merge with AI” so that we won’t be left behind by AI. But this could lead just as easily to a world in which humans are no longer in control of their bodies or decisions and are subject to the power of artificial intelligence.

Neuralink’s study brochure says that volunteers will be followed for five years, so we have more to see and learn.

If I insert a chip in my brain or out of my brain, will I be able to win every poker game?


We’re far away from that, but perhaps not with a brain chip but with another BCI device. Inserting a chip into your brain, while it might sound like a plot straight out of a sci-fi thriller, doesn’t necessarily guarantee victory at the poker table. Winning at poker requires a blend of skill, strategy, psychology, and a bit of luck.

Most importantly, if you have a chip, what stops your opponents from having one as well? So now you can all count cards, you all have the same possibilities and abilities and the fun of the game is ruined. Should we suggest before AI takes over the world, why don’t you just try to enjoy it?

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