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(LifeSiteNews) — Billionaire mogul Elon Musk’s controversial company Neuralink successfully implanted a computer chip into the brain of a human subject for the first time on Sunday. The technology and its potential impact on humanity has sparked serious ethical concerns.

Musk announced the news in a post on his social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Monday.

“The first human received an implant from [Neuralink] yesterday and is recovering well,” he said.

Musk said the company’s first product, named “Telepathy,” “[e]nables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking.”

“Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs,” he said. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.”

The news comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved human trials for the novel technology under an “investigational device exemption” in May 2023. In September, the company announced it had “received approval from the reviewing independent institutional review board and our first hospital site to begin recruitment for our first-in-human clinical trial.”

READ: Elon Musk’s Neuralink announces first human trials for brain implant technology

Through the trials, researchers are attempting to determine whether Neuralink’s “BCI [brain computer interface]” functions to help “people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts.”

But restoring motor function to people with mobility impairments isn’t the only or even the primary goal of the brain chips, a reality Musk hinted at in his Monday social media posts.

The tech entrepreneur, who founded Neuralink in 2016, has been open about his belief in the technology’s potential to head off a dystopian, science fiction-esque outcome in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes “much smarter than humans” and essentially takes over society.

In a speech at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2019, Musk explicitly stated that the “point” of Neuralink is “to secure humanity’s future as a civilization relative to AI.”

“After solving a bunch of brain-related diseases, there is the mitigation of the existential threat of AI,” he said, arguing the technology will “be really important at civilization level scale.” According to Musk, only by “merging” with AI will humans develop the capacity to stay ahead of and protect themselves from it.

Musk has suggested that the chips will ultimately enable users to do things like “save and replay memories,” functioning as a “backup drive for your non-physical being, your digital soul.”

“The future is going to be weird,” he joked.

READ: World Economic Forum speaker touts technology that allows your boss to monitor your brain activity

Critics of the technology have raised strong and persistent concerns about the general loss of privacy and autonomy occasioned by the widespread use of the technology, as well as the potential for it to be weaponized against citizens by tyrannical governments. 

Researchers assessing the impact of neurotechnology have identified “four new rights that may become of great relevance in the coming decades” amid the rise of implantable devices: “the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.”

The technology presents serious philosophical and religious dilemmas as well.

Writing on the issue for The Catholic Stand in 2019, Ph.D. candidate and pro-life writer Christopher Reilly posed several major questions related to the technology’s impact on human beings, including: “Will use of the technology further erode respect for human dignity? … Will our spiritual identities become confused or damaged?” and “Does the technology enhance or detract from living in holiness?”

“The only thing obvious about all of this is that we need the guidance of the Church and tech-savvy theologians and philosophers,” Reilly wrote. “[A]nd we need that guidance very soon.”

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