If you’re curious about who would sign up for a Neuralink implant, as I am, you will discover that the volunteers have been seduced by lies.
“I would love to be on the cutting edge of medical science, to be able to bridge the gap of humans and technology,” says Adam Woodworth, a 40-year-old security manager for a museum in Indianapolis who suffers from short-term memory loss due to a military injury. He is swayed by the notion — one Musk promotes heavily — that Neuralink’s device may be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and brain disorders like his. “I understand there are risks, but someone has to be willing to step up and take that risk,” he says. “I am willing to be one of those people if Elon and the Neuralink team will be willing to allow me to participate.
“Also not sure if it will be possible right off the bat,” Woodworth adds, “but I am also a Tesla owner, and it would be pretty rad if I could communicate with my car using just my mind.”
Dear god. It will not help with short term memory loss. It will not treat Alzheimer’s. I imagine this is, at best, a Phase 0 trial — they’ll plug the widget into this guy’s head, and if his brain doesn’t bleed out and he doesn’t have seizures, they’ll chalk it up as a great success. That’s it.
If Musk is telling volunteers that they’ll treat Alzheimer’s and memory loss, that’s fraud, plain and simple. Medical fraud. He’s making false promises he can’t keep, that will trick people into getting invasive brain surgery.
Of course he’s lying at a phenomenal rate. He’s Elon Musk.
Yet Musk, who has poured at least $100 million of his own money into the venture, makes far broader and fantastic claims about the capabilities of his company’s implant. Apart from declaring that it “will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using their thumbs,” and “paraplegics to walk again,” he’s speculated it could eventually treat blindness, schizophrenia, depression, autism, obesity, and insomnia, and one day meld human consciousness with AI. This is in addition, of course, to creating a direct channel between minds and machines, not to mention the global internet. Oh, and did we mention that Neuralink could, according to Musk, allow for telepathic communication? (Neither Musk nor Neuralink responded to a request for comment as to whether these claims were somewhat hyperbolic.)
It will do none of those things.
Here, I have a pill that will reverse aging, restore libido, make you lose weight, increase your brain power ten-fold, and give you the power to read minds. (In small print on the label, it mentions this pill can’t do all that yet, but research is continuing that will eventually produce a pill with those powers.)
Am I a quack if I peddle a pill, claiming it has those powers, even if it has that tiny disclaimer? Should I be arrested, fined, and possibly imprisoned for that kind of fraud? I think so.
Why aren’t the police on Musk, or at least the consumer protection office, or even the better business bureau? This quack is taking advantage of people with real illnesses!