Musk claims Neuralink will rescue humanity. But without our biological flaws, we lose an essential part of who we are
The announcement that a Chinese scientist, Dr He Jiankui, had used the gene-editing technique Crispr to engineer the world’s first genetically modified babies provoked a storm of protests. Though Dr He said he was motivated to help families struggling with genetic diseases, scientists around the world have warned that the experiment poses grave risks not only to the twins involved and their progeny but also to our entire species, and many ethicists have agreed.
On the same day the story broke, the entrepreneur Elon Musk announced that one of his companies, Neuralink, was planning to save the human race by building a hard drive to be implanted in the brain. The goal, Musk explained, was to wire a chip into your skull, giving you the digital intelligence that is poised to surge far ahead of mere biological intelligence. Without that chip – that is, without fully incorporating artificial intelligence into ourselves – our species, Musk argued, is doomed. In the robotic, algorithm-dominated universe that lies just ahead, we will be restricted, if we survive at all, to a few protected zones, comparable to the steadily shrinking territories, little more than big cages, where the last chimpanzees and mountain gorillas eke out their existence.