Fitbit for the brain or beginning of the end of the human mind?

If we don’t retain sovereignty over our body, mind and spirit and trust the wisdom that already lies within us, then won’t we be complicit in killing off the human race?

For decades scientists thought our adult human brain was static and unchanging until the truth about neuroplasticity emerged…

At the beginning of the pandemic, many people got caught up in the conspiracy theory that Bill Gates was intending to orchestrate a mass microchipping venture via Coronavirus vaccines. To me this was always a ludicrous idea, based on lies and paranoia, used as a political weapon to cause more division. And just in case you’re wondering – I’m not a fan of QAnon or their dangerous, brainwashing rabbit holes. However, I am concerned with increasingly authoritarian governments and mass surveillance. And I do see a future in which microchips will be ready for mass consumption.

‘It’s kind of like Fitbit in your skull,’ said Elon Musk, choosing to compare his latest microchip device to a brand we already feel familiar and comfortable with.

The billionaire and founder of Neuralink, a tech company creating brain implants, is currently testing them out on pigs, before moving on to treating people with neurological disabilities. It’s a clever debut since it combines medical prowess with a beneficial cause. And it encourages humans with healthy brains to trust the concept.

Musk’s ultimate goal is less altruistic – he wants to advance human intelligence by merging our brains with machines, rendering us part human, part cyborg. And once the FDA approval goes through, you can expect Neuralink to go mainstream.

I’ve already had friends coo at how revolutionary and convenient a microchip in the brain will be: Imagine streaming instant music through your brain, or being able to speak a foreign language fluently or simply Googling information with your thoughts?

And in Sweden, such a reality isn’t far-fetched. By the end of April this year, more than 5,000 people had microchips implanted into their skin, replacing cash and credit cards. Amid celebratory parties, wishing each other a ‘Happy Cyborg birthday!’ these guinea pigs were excited to be part of a new future.  

In Musk’s world, Neuralink is far more advanced and will help us navigate a so-called AI apocalypse, a scenario in which artificial intelligence outpaces human intelligence.

Since AI can only take control of the planet away from the human species if we allow it to, this is a nebulous argument. However, Musk realises that convincing reasons are needed to push through a potentially terrifying product. 

‘Even in a benign AI scenario, we will be left behind,’ Musk said. ‘But with a brain-machine interface, we can actually go along for the ride. And we can have the option of merging with AI. This is extremely important.’

Aren’t the long-term consequences of having a microchip in a healthy brain, far more important? What will the side-effects on our physical body, mind and spirit be? What is the ultimate price that humanity will pay?

For me, humans merging with machines, marks the beginning of the end for homo sapiens. Once the Black Mirror-esque thrill of the novelty of Neuralink has died down, I believe it poses one of the biggest threats to our species.

And here’s why. Let’s say this device lodged inside your skull has the capacity to read your every thought and record every single transaction or move you make – not only will this be an invasion of privacy on a grand scale, but what happens if a person, corporation or governmental body hacks this data?    

On a practical level, what if the chip malfunctions? We’ve all been on the receiving end of technological glitches but this one will be stuck inside your skull. Talk about insane in the membrane!

And what about the potential physical side effects? Will we receive a long list of disclaimers? Presumably some human bodies might reject the microchip.

And when the time comes, will we ultimately have a choice whether to accept the chip or not? After all no-one wants to be left behind, we all want a sense of belonging. Those without a brain implant will undoubtedly be left out, making it harder to get a job, access public services, travel and so on.

Neuralink will undoubtedly dull our capacity to think, reflect and grow. Imagine receiving high speed AI fuelled information providing instant answers for almost everything. Like Siri on steroids, stuck in your head. Let’s hope that we can switch off the adverts!

For decades scientists thought our adult human brain was static and unchanging until the truth about neuroplasticity emerged: healthy brains evolve naturally over time – our neurons are continually being shaped by our experiences. The brain is like a muscle and we can continue to form new neural pathways as we evolve. And that’s what makes us human.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of the human mind is our intuition. Our gut instinct. We often make decisions as a result of honing in and listening to this.

Einstein, Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs all attribute their extraordinary success to intuition. I bet Elon Musk probably uses his too, although the question is whether he is more concerned about the greater good of humanity or leaving his own legacy.

I wonder what Steve Jobs would make of it. It’s hard to imagine a world without his revolutionary iPhone in it. And yet at his memorial service, he left this gift: The Autobiography of a Yogi – a book exposing the ancient secrets of humanity.

It refers to our natural human superpowers, otherwise known as yogic siddhis. Each one of us has the potential to develop an inner awareness, proving we are much more than our thoughts and our physical bodies. This interconnectivity is a valuable, life-changing human experience.  Those who’ve had a glimpse of this feeling of Oneness, don’t wish to be cut off from this energetic field.

But once we start tampering with healthy functioning brains and create an army of robotic, mind-controlled humans, it will undoubtedly sever us from the healing power of Nature. It will also lead to less intimacy and more disconnection. We’re already suffering from a pandemic of loneliness, depression and soaring mental health issues.

It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to tell us that our brains are not designed to process so much information. A sensory overload of data combined with high pressured careers, the emotional challenges of relating and the general stresses of life, spells disaster. If anything, we need to detox from technology. The last thing we need is an addictive implant stuck inside our minds.   

Besides shutting down our natural intuition, I believe this Matrix style technology will cause us to become more disconnected from our true essence and from Nature itself, leading us into a horrific sci-fi reality.

Photo credit: Neuralink

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Sarah Bladen

Sarah Bladen is the former editor of OK! Middle East and the co-author of Practical Zen for Health, Wealth and Mindfulness. Sarah’s work has appeared in The Independent, CNN Travel, Women’s Health and Yoga Magazine. A meditation teacher, holistic coach and relational life therapist, Sarah is passionate about wellbeing within relationships.

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