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Neuralink : Could hacking the human brain happen via APIs?

Neuralink le hacking du cerveau humain passera par les API blog image

This January 30, 2024, will forever be an important date in the non-linear evolution of NBICs, the slightly outdated term for a group of technologies (Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno-Technologies) that are particularly closely watched by detractors of transhumanism (or admired by its adepts). 

Thus, this January 2024, the first Neuralink chip was implanted in a human brain. Elon Musk had announced it, but nobody really dared to believe it.  

Now that it has happened, there seems to be no barrier to the creation of a transhuman being, augmented in their thoughts and reflections by digital technology. The wall that used to protect the human brain – its soul, for some – has fallen! 

We can no longer take part in the “pro” or “con” debate, a political and ideological marker far more important than the mode of economic production at the end of the 19th century, which separated the left and right. We can’t fight an existing technology, we can only frame it, with the limits we know. 

Taking the example of nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaties can be a good basis for thinking about what we can, or must, put in place to frame NBIC activities on humans. 

Beyond the dizzying projections we can already imagine when we mix advances in generative AI and neural implants (just imagine the capabilities of a colleague augmented by ChatGPT-4, and project yourself 3 years from now with a GPT-7!), it seems clear that the risk of brain hacking looks plausible, even if socially unacceptable for our Western way of thinking. 

Laurent Alexandre already warned about hacking the human being at the Monaco security conference in 2014; hacking the human brain is nothing new.  

Teaching is a kind of brain hacking. The brains of our children have been programmed for centuries in a more-or-less industrial way, and the image of Raphael’s famous painting of the “School of Athens” is engraved in our memories. 

However, even if this industrialization of brain “programming” has never ceased to evolve, sometimes going beyond the simple mission of “educating and civilizing” to impose religious or secular beliefs, there was still a barrier (the 5 senses) that maintained the illusion of free will – it involved reading (vision), hearing, and so on. 

Neuralink breaks down this barrier and, under the guise of benefiting mankind (by alleviating degeneration or cognitive malformations), could remove the complexity of human programming interfaces. 

It’s true that this isn’t the first electronic interface to be grafted into a human. Indeed, a cochlear implant is a direct interface with the auditory nerve. A connected pacemaker is a direct interface with the heart.  

The big difference between Neuralink and existing interfaces is that it touches the brain directly, and not just one sense.  

And it is precisely interface security that will once again be the Achilles’ heel of this technological prowess, for without interface security, no oversight is possible. Already, the security of connected pacemakers has raised eyebrows, capable of remotely triggering heart attacks 

The same applies to the human brain: whoever takes control of Neuralink’s APIs would theoretically have total control over the equipped subject! 

How to protect these interfaces, these APIs to our deepest thoughts, is a question that must be at the heart of all our concerns, just as it is for your information system. 

At Axway, we’ve been thinking about these issues for years. That’s why we offer our customers the highest level of security for their APIs (Common Criteria EAL4+), and allow our API solutions to be deployed according to service availability requirements.  

Indeed, security issues are closely linked to sovereignty concerns, which is why we offer solutions that are independent of any American hyperscaler, for example, which is becoming an area of concern in the EU and some other regions. 

Security, independence, sovereignty – these are not just issues for Neuralink’s APIs, they’re yours too. Let’s talk about it! 

Discover more perspectives on emerging trends in 2024 and some of the most pressing issues facing IT and business leaders.

Key Takeaways

  • In January 2024, the first Neuralink chip was successfully implanted in a human brain, marking a groundbreaking moment in the evolution of NBICs.
  • The article explores the potential for creating transhuman beings with augmented thoughts and reflections through digital technology, raising questions about the ethical implications and societal acceptance.
  • With direct access to the brain, Neuralink poses a risk of brain hacking, similar to concerns raised about other electronic interfaces. The security of the APIs to do this becomes a critical concern for protecting individuals from potential misuse.
  • Drawing parallels with Axway's focus on API security, the article emphasizes the importance of addressing security concerns surrounding Neuralink's APIs and underscores the broader issues of independence and sovereignty in the context of technological advancements.