News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Neuralink, Student Loans, and Pantone

A graphic of Neuralink's logo with computer numbers in the background
December 2, 2022

Pass the Chips

The Story

Elon Musk could soon begin testing brain implants in humans

*Grabs coffee.* Go on.

For decades, researchers have been developing devices that can decode brain signals. And have shown they can help people with disabilities communicate (think: sending texts and emails) and restore movement (like lifting a coffee with a robotic arm) in people with paralysis. In 2016, Musk entered the brain-implant technology scene, promising to revolutionize the way people communicate with artificial intelligence. Now, he says his brain chip company — Neuralink — could begin human clinical trials in as soon as six months. And unveiled a video this week apparently showing monkeys using the tech to move a cursor around.

I’m having “Black Mirror” flashbacks. 

You’re not alone. But this is very much real. Here’s how Neuralink’s brain implant works: The coin-like device has thinner-than-hair threads filled with electrodes. Once it’s drilled into a person’s skull, the electrodes read signals in the brain and transmit them to a computer. The hope is that the brain-computer interface (BCI) will help people with traumatic brain injuries and debilitating conditions better communicate. But many aren’t convinced. 

What do you mean?

Neuroscientists are skeptical of Musk's aspirations, considering that Neuralink is already over two years behind on human testing. Critics have also raised ethical concerns since Neuralink has mainly focused on animal testing (with monkeys dying in the process). But supporters believe the life-changing potential of these brain implants could outweigh the risks. Especially for people with disabilities. And Musk appears to believe in his product so much that he’s said he’ll implant the chip in his brain. For now, whether the implant actually makes it to human testing is up to the FDA to decide. 


Elon Musk has revolutionized industries — from space to EVs — and is now leading one of the world’s most popular social media companies. His brain-implant technology could make a difference in the lives of millions. But many aren’t holding their breath.

And Also...This

What’s waiting on the syllabus…

Student loan forgiveness. Yesterday, SCOTUS said the program will remain blocked for now — but agreed to take up the issue early next year. The decision comes after the Education Dept extended its pause on student loan repayments until the end of August 2023. And amid a legal battle to block the relief plan. That includes a federal appeals court, which put in place a nationwide hold. Now, after the Biden admin asked the Supremes to step in, the highest court says it will hear arguments in late February or early March. But a decision isn’t expected until June. In the meantime, 26 million people are able to hit ‘snooze’ on bill payments...but don’t yet know if that will be the case this time next year.

What appears to be loosening its grip…

China. This week, several Chinese cities began easing their strict COVID-19 restrictions. The move — from Guangzhou to Chongqing — seems to be in response to the days-long protests that swept the country. Health officials also made a rare acknowledgment of the mental health and economic impact of these lockdowns. Since then, police have cracked down on the protests. Now, several cities’ lockdowns are being lifted and mass testing requirements have changed. But Chinese President Xi Jinping still remains silent on the protests and public anger.

Who’s got us saying ‘oui weren’t expecting that’...

French President Emmanuel Macron. Yesterday, President Biden hosted the French leader at the White House for a chat on international relations. It marks the Biden admin’s first state visit, and the first time Macron had returned to the US since 2018. But this time around, the US’s long-time ally wasn’t afraid to mince words and take some jabs. Case in point: Macron has called out Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, saying it’s boosting US business at the expense of European companies. Biden said he wouldn’t apologize for the law, but admitted that there are some “glitches” that need to be tweaked. The tension wasn’t a complete surprise, since Macron said he’d be raising his concerns. But the leaders did see eye-to-eye on other big-ticket items like holding Russia accountable for the war in Ukraine.

When you stopped watching “The Morning Show”...

Meet the real thing. Yesterday, the co-anchors of “Good Morning America” had to go back on-air and pretend photos of their alleged romantic affair hadn’t just leaked all over the internet. Amy Robach and TJ Holmes — whose show leads morning news ratings — haven’t yet commented on the tabloid photos. But they’ve deactivated their Instagram accounts amid the rumors. Apparently, the news is only half the story.

What did Barbiecore dirty...

Pantone’s 2023 color of the year.

While the royal family has another racism allegation it’s working through…

Harry & Meghan are about to drop a docuseries of their own.

Who praises Hitler…

An antisemite who just got suspended from Twitter.

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