What if you could share your thoughts with others, and even control machines with your mind? * What if you could restore your senses, abilities, and emotions with a device implanted in your brain?
Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are devices that connect the brain to computers, enabling new possibilities for communication, entertainment, and therapy. But they also raise ethical, social, and spiritual questions that challenge our assumptions about reality and our role in it.
One of the most ambitious and controversial projects in this field is Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk in 2016. Neuralink aims to create a wireless BCI that can be implanted in the human brain with minimal surgery, and can interface with smartphones or computers. Neuralink claims that its device can help people with paralysis, neurological disorders, or brain injuries to regain their abilities and improve their quality of life. It also envisions that its device can enhance human capabilities, such as memory, learning, creativity, and even empathy.
Neuralink has recently announced that it is looking for people to trial its brain-computer chip, despite criticism over its safety and animal testing. A report by Anthony Cuthbertson from The Independent covers the latest developments and challenges of Neuralink’s project.
But what does the Torah say about BCIs? Are they compatible with Jewish values and teachings? Do they have any relevance to the prophecies and teachings about Moshiach and the redemption?
One possible source of guidance is the verse in Deuteronomy 6:8: “And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." This verse refers to the mitzvah of tefillin (phylacteries), which are leather boxes containing parchment scrolls with passages from the Torah. Tefillin are worn on the arm and on the head during weekday morning prayers.
Tefillin may be seen as a way of connecting the brain to a higher source of information and inspiration. They represent the alignment of one’s thoughts and feelings with God’s will and wisdom. They also signify the bond between God and Israel.
Tefillin also have a connection to the era of Moshiach and the redemption, as they are one of the signs that will identify the true redeemer. As it says in the Talmud: “And since he does not ask, He will wrap Himself in a tallit like a prayer leader and show him the tefillin that are on His head.”
This passage suggests that tefillin are a mark of God’s sovereignty and glory, and that they will be revealed to Moshiach as a sign of his mission and destiny.
Therefore, tefillin can teach us some important lessons about BCIs and their ethical implications. However, unlike BCIs, tefillin are not meant to alter or enhance the natural functions of the brain, but to elevate and sanctify them. Tefillin do not interfere with human free will or autonomy, but rather empower and enrich them. Tefillin do not create a dependency or a vulnerability, but rather a responsibility and a privilege.
The Torah teaches us that we should use our brains and our technology in accordance with God’s will and wisdom, and not for selfish or destructive purposes. The Torah teaches us that we should respect the dignity and integrity of human beings and animals, and not exploit or abuse them. The Torah teaches us that we should seek to improve ourselves and the world, and not to degrade or corrupt them.
The Torah also teaches us that we should look forward to the era of Moshiach and the redemption, when all the secrets of creation will be revealed, and when all the potentials of humanity will be realized. The Torah teaches us that we should prepare ourselves for this era by fulfilling God’s commandments and studying His Torah, especially the teachings of Moshiach and redemption. The Torah teaches us that we should anticipate this era by spreading God’s light and love to all people and all creatures.
BCIs may be a fascinating and promising technology, but they are not the ultimate goal or solution. They are only a means to an end, and that end is God’s plan and purpose for creation. As it says in Isaiah 11:9: “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.”