long term. From forbidden fruit to nerve lace

This article is from the Monthly Science et Avenir – La Recherche n°903, dated May 2022.

Supporters of the Abrahamic religions confirm this: God banished Eve and Adam from the Garden of Eden after they bit into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – an apple, although opinions differ on this point – of the prohibition. Despite what was clearly prepared for them.

dual purpose brain implants

The interpretation of this episode, and its subsequent condemnation, varies according to the interpretations. For some, knowledge, as such, may not be in question, nor the fact that humanity has access to it; What if, has broken the law and, above all, has eaten the fruit of the tree without contributing to its expansion, in other words, without any effort to gain immediate access to knowledge.

With the Neural Lace project – “neural lace” in French – the Neuralink company, launched in 2017 by renowned American businessman Elon Musk, promises to develop brain implants for two purposes. A therapeutic aim is, first, to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy or senile dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, and certain mental disorders such as depression. Then a much more ambitious project, to connect our brain to electronic information storage devices, in order to expand its capabilities.

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While the therapeutic purpose seems plausible, the other is questionable.

From then on, we’ll go about learning without much hassle, as it will be enough to connect the right modules. While the therapeutic purpose seems plausible, the second is technically questionable and morally reprehensible. Nothing, in the current scientific results, is authoritative to confirm that someone would be able to manufacture within a reasonable time an electronic cerebral implant capable of enhancing our cognitive abilities. And, if this happens, we will be forced to accept knowledge without interpreting it, without interpreting it and, therefore, without questioning it. Then how not to be afraid of the calamity that drove Eve and Adam out of the Garden of Eden!

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By Jean-Gabriel GanassiaProfessor at Sorbonne University, In Paris, artificial intelligence researcher at LIP6 (Sorbonne University, CNRS), former chairman of the CNRS Ethics Committee. Last published work: “Virtual Services”Threshold, 2022.

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