Throughout history, the advent of new technologies has been greeted with both excitement and widespread uproar. As the printing press changed the world through widespread literacy, citizens raised concerns about issues such as increased social isolation and information overload. Today, the same issues are in play for critics of recent innovations such as brain microchip technology.
Brain microchips have been a fixture in modern science fiction and cyberpunk fiction. Writers such as William Gibson have imagined worlds in which the mind and body seamlessly integrate with technology. These same writers have also explored the potential drawbacks of this technology on society and human relationships. Several of these concerns are proving prescient as people raise objections to the recent work of brain microchip companies such as Elon Musk-owned tech startup Neuralink.
These concerns were recently recorded by the online focus group company and market research company John Zogby Strategies. In the company’s recent survey on brain microchip technology, 77% of respondents expressed concerns that “microchip implants will be used to usher in a never-before-seen level of totalitarian control,” while only 10% believed it would “improve lives.” A majority of respondents also expressed concerns that the technology would “improve the social fabric.” 67% were wary of transhumanist ideals, saying they did not want to merge with AI, while 18% believed merging with technology would “bring about new heights of prosperity.
The debate surrounding brain microchip technology is only getting started, but for the time being, the public may not be ready for these technological innovations. Companies such as Neuralink must work to gain the public’s trust and confidence if they wish to make brain microchips as ubiquitous as the smartphone.