On a recent Lex Fridman’s podcast, Elon Musk, the CEO of the several companies including SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink, claimed that his neurotechnology company would be able to “solve” autism and schizophrenia in the future. The statement is somewhat controversial and bizarre as autisms cannot really be “solved” or cured, and it doesn’t need to.
When answering the question about the future challenges or solutions of Neuralink and its possible impact, Elon Musk stated:
So Neuralink, I think, at first will solve a lot of brain-related diseases. So, it could be anything from, like, autism, schizophrenia, memory loss — like everyone experiences memory loss at certain points in age. Parents can’t remember their kids’ names and that kind of thing.
It is unknown why Musk considered autism to be a disease, as he didn’t go into too much detail about it.
According to the National Autistic Society:
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Established in 2016, Neuralink is a company that specializes in developing chips that can be implanted into the human brain to record its activity. Such chips are supposed to solve problems related to brain diseases. Previously, Elon Musk also mentioned that developing technologies would help treat such conditions as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
Musk also stated that Neuralink is “intended to address the existential risk associated with digital superintelligence.”
Some people even wrote letters addressed to Elon Musk expressing their disagreement with what he said on the recent podcast and saying that his statement was “dangerous and unfair.”
The problem with the idea that autism can be “solved” is that it attaches a stigma to the people on the autistic spectrum.