Last Friday (28), Elon Musk showed the world how the Neuralink chip would work in a human brain using a pig; according to him, the solution, still under development, could treat numerous conditions, from depression to brain damage. The demonstration, however, sparked controversies that went beyond accusations of mistreatment of animals. In an interview with Inverse, neurologists recognize the evolution behind the device, but think that precipitation is not the best way.
Much of the criticism was directed at the promises made by the entrepreneur, since, according to experts, any practical purpose would take years to materialize. Kevin Tracey, professor of neurosurgery and president of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical, cannot imagine, for example, that there is any solution to the problems mentioned before, at least, 10 years.
As for other purposes, neurology professor John Krakauer of Johns Hopkins University sees substantial impediments. “Let me be a little more specific. The device we saw was placed in a single sensorimotor area. If we want to read thoughts instead of movements (assuming we know its neural basis), where would we implant it? How many would we need? How would we prevent the scalp from being studded with them? Nothing was said, of course “, he reflects.
Krakauer goes further and states that, despite the excitement generated by the possibility of Neuralink transforming people into X-Men, there are already less invasive solutions to deal with the conditions pointed out by Musk. “I’m afraid that the fun part of the thing gets in the way of critical thinking,” he adds.
On the other hand…
However, there are those who think the initiative is a big step; one example is Ralph Adolphs, a professor at the California Institute of Technology: “This is a great example of how technology exceeds our current usability.” He also disagrees that the “fuzuê” should be discouraged. “We need more hype now.”
“In the United States, over the past 20 years, the federal government’s investment in support of research has not kept up with inflation. There is an idea that things are very good and that we don’t need to spend so much money on studies. This is absurd. covid-19 proved that we need to increase enthusiasm and invest. ”
Anyway, regardless of the position of the scientific community, it cannot be denied: the billionaire really knows how to attract attention.