Billionaire Elon Musk has two wildly ambitious goals: to establish a permanent human colony on Mars and to create a technology that links human brains with artificial intelligence.
Of Musk’s two futuristic dreams, it’s the second one that has the most potential to change humanity.
While most of the early publicity about Neuralink, the SpaceX entrepreneur’s brain-to-computer interface, has focused on its potential to unlock the lives of people living with severe paralysis by allowing to control robotic arms and even one day entire exoskeletons, the technology would change the way that the rest of us communicate, learn, and have sex.
Neurobiologist Professor Andrew Hires said: ”The first application you can imagine is better mental control for a robotic arm for someone who’s paralysed.”
But more than one researcher has explored the idea of stimulating the brain’s pleasure centres directly, allowing people to do without drugs or alcohol to achieve pleasurable sensations.
Dr Stuart Meloy developed a device in 2001 that was playfully dubbed “The Orgasmatron”.
It was designed as a pain management system but, as he told New Scientist: “I was placing the electrodes and suddenly the woman started exclaiming emphatically.
“I asked her what was up and she said, ‘You’re going to have to teach my husband to do that’.”
Meloy had accidentally given the woman an orgasm by connecting the electrodes of his pain management system to the right spot on her spine.
The technology could have given rise to a radical new take on the traditional vibrator, but according to Meloy he would have needed over six million dollars for the testing required to bring his “Orgasmatron” to market and “that’s money I don’t have right now,” he said.
Liz Klinger, the entrepreneur behind the Lioness smart vibrator, says that getting backing for a device aimed mainly at women’s sexual pleasure is still difficult: “There’s still a lot of stigma, bias and lack of resourcing in health care for female sexuality.
“Even if a device did pass clinical trials and get FDA approval, the current environment means that it likely wouldn’t have a clear path to insurance reimbursement”.
But for Musk, money isn’t a problem.
So Neuralink could easily offer the “orgasm on demand” that Meloy’s technology promised.
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