Elon Musk’s Neuralink may be busy implanting brain chips in animals, but the brain-computer interface startup co-founder is also thinking of more fancy experiments, including a real-life Jurassic Park. Unlike the movie, however, the goal wouldn’t be to revive ancient dino DNA, and keeping your fingers crossed it wouldn’t lead to loose lizard rampages either.
In Jurassic Park – originally a series of books by Michael Crichton followed by a series of increasingly ridiculous films – scientists extract dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes and other insects trapped in amber millions of years ago. Though damaged, the original DNA is combined with modern reptilian DNA and the recreated dinosaurs are reborn.
Obviously, because we can’t be left behind with beautiful things and go with impunity, the dinosaurs break loose, people are eaten, children have almost certain PTSD that require lifelong therapy, and Jeff Goldblum smoulders in the camera multiple times. Scientists have poked holes in the fictional DNA theory proposed by Crichton, but Neuralink co-founder Max Hodak has a few other ideas.
« We could probably build Jurassic Park if we wanted, » he tweeted over the weekend. « Wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs, but [shrug emoji]. Maybe 15 years of breeding technology to get super exotic new species. »
We could probably build a Jurassic Park if we wanted to. would not be genetically authentic dinosaurs, but 🤷♂️. Maybe 15 years of breeding technology to get super exotic novel species
Given Hodak’s role at Neuralink, questions arose unsurprisingly as to how the brain interface technology might be relevant. However, it looks more like the manager is thinking about broader ideas for conservation and beyond, as genetic manipulation is becoming more common.
“Biodiversity (anti-fragility) is definitely valuable. Conservation is important and meaningful, ”continued Hodak. “But why do we stop there? Why don’t we try more specifically to generate new diversity? »
Such genetic experiments, especially in cases involving human genetics, typically encounter legal and regulatory concerns. For example, gene therapies have been suggested as potentially huge improvements for the treatment of diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, but they are subject to stringent regulatory requirements. Stem cell research also holds the promise of potentially major medical breakthroughs, but it falls under a multitude of legal controls.
Similarly, the brain-machine interface technology that Neuralink is studying is up-to-date not only with research but also with legal restrictions. As with gene therapy, one of the promises is that from Neuralink that it can help address everything from depression to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. However, there are also concerns that neurotechnology in general could push the boundaries of privacy and research laws, which are simply not currently in place to accommodate the nuances that they bring.
Right now, the likelihood that Elon Musk will get a Velociraptor analog to drive around Texas seems pretty slim, even if his Neuralink partner thinks the idea of modern dinosaurs is roughly feasible. Right now, Neuralink’s hands-on experiments are a little more modest, including implanting basic iterations of the startups’ chips into pigs and monkeys.