Will Elon Musk Open the Doors of the Forbidden Castle?

5 min read

The mind refers to the personal experience of perceiving and thinking about words, emotions, thoughts, and more. It relies on the proper functioning of the human brain. This definition is very similar to the definition of subjective qualities or qualia in the philosophy of mind. These qualities are extraordinary, internal, and inexpressible, even with the help of analogy. They are closely related to the phenomenon of consciousness.

The mind has long been considered a fortified and forbidden castle without doors and windows, which receives information through sensory neurons but which no one else may enter. For example, with regard to the color we perceive in our mind, such as red, we can never be sure if it’s the same color perceived in someone else’s mind. Although we have all agreed that this color is red, the exact perception in each individual’s mind remains mysterious. Likewise, we cannot really understand the pain of a hospitalized patient, even if we hear their moans. When we watch the sunset on the coast with our partner, neither of us ever experiences the same feeling. These subjective experiences of external and internal perceptions are the base of mind and consciousness.

The brain is the primary recipient of signals received from both the environmental world and the body. These are visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli, as well as signals originating from internal organs, such as the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and even the microbes residing in the gut. The brain does not simply perceive input signals like cameras or voice recorders. The brain does not record these received messages in their true form, but instead interprets them based on previous experiences and perceptions. In many cases, this interpretation does not correspond to the nature of the signals. These perceptions then transform into a personal and inner experience that is mysterious.

For instance, the feeling of sadness that arises from witnessing children being killed in wars is different from simply perceiving these scenes. The feeling of triumph after a sports match is significantly different from merely observing the course of the match itself. We do not expect a camera or a computer to change its mood based on received signals or commands.

The Neuralink, a company funded by Elon Musk, recently implanted a microchip in the brain of a pig to investigate brain function when it seeks food. Neuralink is currently developing a device that consists of a small probe equipped with over 3,000 electrodes connected to flexible threads. These threads can record the activity of 1,000 brain neurons, and Neuralink’s computers will interpret the collected data [1]. These chips are different from the ones used to compensate for certain brain disorders, such as memory or motor function control. They may be capable of unveiling the brain’s function during a physiological sensation, like starvation.

It has been proposed that brain booster devices will soon be available for humans to enhance their intelligence, memory, and problem-solving capacities by directly linking to the internet and AI. These developments have raised numerous philosophical and moral concerns. One of the most important ones is what it will mean to have access to a once impenetrable mind and gain the ability to read minds, which goes beyond the issue of enhancing human mental capacities. As these microchips provide humans with access to the internet and AI, others will also be able to access the minds of individuals through these microchips.

It seems that we have finally breached the fortified castle. Although we have previously been able to indirectly analyze brain functions during different perceptions using techniques like fMRI, the direct and precise analysis of brain output through electrical signals is more valuable. Theoretically, these output signals may be interpreted by AI, allowing us to gain a better understanding of how individuals experience both external and internal perceptions.

Expecting to reveal the qualia of the mind is not as impossible as it once was. Recently, Japanese scientists claim to have developed a machine that can record the wonderful world of night dreams using a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner (MRI scanner) [2]. This machine decodes each brain’s electrical activity by matching the brain activity patterns during dreams with the telling of the dream after wakefulness. This is similar to a dream itself. With this development, we can expect to reveal mental experiences such as happiness, sadness, nostalgia, etc., in wakefulness.

The mind/body problem is an old challenge among philosophers. Old philosophers, such as René Descartes, believed that the mind originated from the soul and was connected to the brain through the pineal gland. These philosophers had proposed that the mind and consciousness do not cease to exist after death. However, modern scientists and philosophers, based on new findings in neuroscience, hold that consciousness comes from brain activity.

Consciousness Essential Reads

The brain-computer interface may soon unravel the secrets of the mind and consciousness. Analyzing the direct output of the brain during the perception of input signals by AI or powerful supercomputers may reveal or reconstruct the emotions and inner experiences of each individual. If this is the case, the age-old mind/body problem is solved in favor of modern neuroscientists who believe that the mind is formed by brain activity. Even if a brain-computer interface cannot extract subjective mental experiences from the brain, it will still be valuable because it suggests that the mind exists in a realm beyond the brain.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours