A couple of days ago, the FDA announced its approval of Neuralink to launch the first-in-human clinical study.
A move that is significant in the world of medical technology, this approval raised eyebrows reasonably quickly. Why does this matter? In all aspects of life, tech developments and their evolution are inevitable, we’ve seen how tech can change people’s lives for the better and especially in the medical field, so why the fuss around Neuralink?
Before diving deep into people’s reactions to Neuralink, let’s explain what Neuralink is, its purpose and what is its potential impact on the world of medicine.
Neuralink Origins and Purpose
Founded by Elon Musk in 2016, Neuralink is a neurotechnology company and according to its website, it creates a brain-computer interface that is fully implantable, cosmetically invisible, and designed to let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go.
In short, Neuralink assists those immobilized by paralysis in regaining communication skills. Eventually, the company plans to restore motor, sensory, and visual functions as well as treat neurological disorders.
A Step in the Right Direction?
We cannot lie and say that this invention is not a step in the right direction. We have to acknowledge what technology can do to help people with disabilities.
As people who are able to walk, talk, and basically lead a normal life, we cannot gatekeep or object to this innovation.
People in medicine have been longing to improve the lives of people constantly suffering from diseases and disabilities since the dawn of time.
While fascinating and promising Neuralink is, what do people tend to worry about how does this work? How can the FDA give its approval for human testing without citing a reason?
Between Advocates and Skeptics
With every technological advancement comes hypemen and genuine support. People who are excited to see the changes in the medical field and how humanity can evolve.
An article by Inverse has cited a number of supporters who are excited about Neuralink, including:
Bren Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology at California Institute of Technology, Ralph Adolphs, has told Inverse Neuralink's announcement was "tremendously exciting" and "a huge technical achievement."
A Former contributor at Forbes, Lauren deLisa Coleman, made a study with GlobalWebIndex, a market research company that provides audience insight across 46 countries to the world’s largest brands, marketing agencies, and media organizations, to see what Musk has to offer
Statistics show that when asked about how respondents felt about implantable technology, overall, the breakdown was as follows.
● I need more info before I form an opinion - 21%
● I’m strongly against it - 23%
● I’m slightly against it - 9%
● I’m neither for nor against it - 19%
● I’m slightly in favor of it - 15%
● I’m strongly in favor of it - 14%
Leading to our next section of the article…
Controversies and Concerns
According to Reuters, The FDA acknowledged in a statement that the agency cleared Neuralink to use its brain implant and surgical robot for trials on patients but declined to provide more details.
This is increasingly shocking, considering that the FDA rejected the company's application for approval in early 2022 according to Reuters, citing several safety concerns to Neuralink that needed to be addressed before sanctioning human trials
Another concern that has risen is the number of animals that died during the testing of Neuralink.
In response, Neuralink is reportedly under federal investigation following accusations from employees that Elon Musk's pressure to produce results led to barbaric and botched surgeries on monkeys, sheep, and pigs.
It was reported that roughly 1,500 animals have died in these tests since 2018.
If animals died during the simple test? How is it safe for human testing?
What makes an innovative technology like Neuralink so dangerous to human life? Have we crossed the line?
Our Final Take
The future will always be vague and riddled with mystery. We cannot predict what is going to happen in a few seconds but what we can do is question what’s being said. To look for facts and listen to experts, not just follow marketing hype and fall for aesthetics.
At the same time, we should encourage scientists and help fund their projects for a better future.
We cannot give a simple answer whether tech has gone too far, we have to be cautious of its implementation and for sure, its development.