Neuralink, Elon Musk
Elon Musk presents his vision for the future of Neuralink technology in November of 2022. Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Who would be better suited to test a brain implant on humans than the company owned by the guy who believes that the “woke mind virus” is a thing and that it must be “defeated?”

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Who would be better suited to test a brain implant on humans than the company owned by the guy who believes that the “woke mind virus” is a thing and that it must be “defeated?”

If a tweet from Neuralink is to be believed, that’s exactly how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) feels.

“We are excited to share that we have received the FDA’s approval to launch our first-in-human clinical study!” the company announced last night on the social media platform, which, like Neuralink itself, is owned by mercurial billionaire Elon Musk (mercurial is what journalists have to write when they can’t say “right-wing weirdo”).

Now, it is quite possible that this technology can help many people. For decades, scientists have had high hopes that “brain-computer interfaces” (BCIs) can help severely disabled people to regain greater independence.

For example, they might allow someone with a spinal cord injury to regain mobility. And very real gains have been made in this field in recent years. The technology clearly holds promise for people who need it most.

And that’s great.

But maybe Musk should sit this one out.

Here is a guy who spent $44 billion on Twitter so that his opinion would be amplified above all others. Do we really want him implanting chips in our brains? Maybe they come with strings attached, such as the compulsion to retweet anything Musk has to say.

Perhaps most troubling is that the billionaire believes in the existence of something called the “woke mind virus,” which he blames for everything from conditions in San Francisco to making Netflix “unwatchable.”

In fact, Musk believes that this virus is the greatest threat of them all.

“The woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters,” he tweeted last December.

Fortunately for Musk, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is on the case. In announcing the launch of his presidential campaign (on Twitter, of course), and later in a mercurial (!) video that prominently featured Musk, DeSantis made it clear that the fight against wokeness is a top priority.

But what if the Florida governor fails to win the presidency? Or what if he gets to the White House but takes this dangerous but yet-to-be-defined virus as seriously as the very real coronavirus, which killed nearly 100,000 Floridians?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis brings new meaning to “mercurial.” 

In that case, would Musk not feel compelled to take action himself?

And, in that case, do we really want a company he controls to muck around in our brains?

Note: Obviously, much of this is in jest. There is no reason to believe that the people at Neuralink are anything but hard-working scientists who want to develop a technology that can be beneficial for people for whom there previously had been no hope.

That being said, this case is also an illustration that people like Musk, by virtue of their money and how they choose to spend it, exert a far greater influence on how and what we should think than a made up virus.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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