China to double down on brain chips as it looks to compete with Musk’s Neuralink
China has announced plans to invest more in the development of brain-computer interfaces as it aims to release its first product as early as 2025. This comes less than a week after Elon Musk announced that his company, Neuralink, had successfully implanted the first patient with a brain chip.
According to Musk, once implanted, the chip acts as a gateway between the human brain and an external app and will be especially beneficial to individuals with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, motor
neuron disease, and spinal conditions.
According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the “brain-computer interface” project is one of its "innovative iconic products.”
In its press release, the ministry noted that it’s looking to make a series of breakthroughs in key technologies and core devices such as brain-computer fusion, brain-like chips, and brain-computing neural models.
It’s not a new venture seeing as China, last year, launched a 60-person laboratory dedicated to turning existing research in the field of brain chips into practical applications.
At the moment, researchers in the country have already developed a device that interfaces with the brain via the inner ear – it doesn't require to be implanted inside the skull like Neuralink’s device.
The ministry says that its goal is to look for ways to integrate brain technology with driverless cars, virtual reality, and medical rehabilitation.
That said there are worries that the devices could be misused to spy on the Chinese people. There is also concern that people wearing these devices could be manipulated, essentially making them zombies.
"It is even possible that "humanity" will evolve into a community of zombies," Dr Mikhail Lebedev, a senior neuroscientist at Duke University in Durham, said.