It’s hard to deny that Elon Musk’s brand of futuristic dreamer type thinking is not contagious. I, for one, am excited about the future of electrical vehicles and the innovation brought about by Tesla is undeniable.
But, I want to talk about one of Elon’s most bizarre product ideas: Neuralink.
Allegedly, it’ll cure everything from neurological disorders to autism. And what futuristic brain-computer would be complete without the ability to use it to listen to music as well?
Over the years Elon has marred himself in controversy, attracting the ire of the SEC for numerous violations and having to guarantee his own insurance because of how big of a risk he is to traditional insurance companies. A lot of his predictions have been way off the mark and overly optimistic. It’s clear Elon subscribes to the school of positive thinking.
It’s not that uncommon you see Elon’s name in big lights alongside other revolutionaries of our time like Steve Jobs. To Elon’s credit, he has achieved more than many in his position would and taken on a lot of risks which have paid off like SpaceX. It’s clear Elon isn’t afraid to play the long game.
After silence, speculation and little snippets from Joe Rogan podcast episodes and interviews, we were finally going to get some Neuralink information and a demo. Were we going to see someone have their eyesight returned or maybe Elon was going to cure COVID-19?
In the lead up to the August 28 event, Elon made a bold promise to show us the matrix in the matrix.
We were going to get a demo of the elusive Neuralink working in real-time, “Will show neurons firing in real-time on August 28th. The matrix in the matrix.” — the matrix within the matrix, this sounds like high-level exciting stuff.
In true Elon fashion, August 28 rolls around and it is revealed that these implants have been put into pigs. Every time the pig snuffles, it would trigger a beeping noise.
Damn, Elon… You click baited us. I would have given props to Elon if he owned the clearly absurd demo by showing us footage of Rick Astley’s internet meme hit, Never Gonna Give You Up. Overdone, but when done right, a Rick Roll is still appreciated.
We were promised a look inside the matrix of the human mind, instead, we got snout boops. Do you remember those key finders where you would whistle and they would make a noise to help you locate your keys? That’s what the Neuralink feels like in this demo.
In all fairness, this isn’t simple stuff. Elon and Neuralink’s intentions are noble. There is nothing wrong with wanting to cure brain diseases, help people get back the ability to talk/walk or see again. But on the other hand, there is something cruel about getting the hopes up of people living with these issues only to show the extent of your product can do what medical technology has been able to do for at least a decade and a bit.
Can you imagine being paralysed and hearing Elon promise a revolutionary new brain-computer that will possibly help you walk again? I am not doubting that it can’t or won’t happen, but there is obviously a reason nobody else is doing this stuff to this extent: it’s difficult, ambitious and is at least a few decades away from being a reality (once you factor in testing and approvals).
It even turns out there is a website dedicated to tracking Elon Musk’s broken promises, ouch. It seems the patience of some has run out and Elon’s brand of futurism is getting old. Still, I’ll find myself being click baited by Elon for the foreseeable future.