A letter to Neuralink
In August 2020, I was almost done with my bachelor thesis and had freshly came back to school after an introductory course on robotics. In the final chapter of this essay, I questioned how to bring back the hunger for reality, as well as embracing physicality in this digital age. A few days ago, as I watched Neuralink’s demonstration, I decided to write a small world to their team, hoping they might read it.
Mr. Musk, as well as the team of Neuralink,
I am writing to you today after listening to your Neuralink presentation. A thousand things came to my mind as I was hearing your speeches and advances, and I will try to resume them in this letter I hope I will have the courage to send you.
My name is Morgane Billuart and I am a french visual artist and writer, currently studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. I recently got more interested in your project Neuralink as I was writing my bachelor thesis on the fantasies and desires around digital practices, the curation and edition of our narratives through devices, and the aim to control imperfections with such futuristic technologies. As a thinker and a visual maker, I started to believe that in order to think through these questions more clearly, I should myself also get towards the more scientific and practical side of things and attended a summer course in robotics these past two months. There, I was also seeking for an ideal of discussion, collaboration, and bridging forces around fundamental issues and topics. Sadly, this ideal did not happen. On the bright side of things, it made me realize how important it was to start thinking of an ongoing discussion in between the theoretical and critical frame of these issues, as well as in the making of them. You probably know yourself more than others how much technologies and futuristics devices will be enhanced and change the way we perceive and interact in this world. I am certain you discuss and think through these things every day. On the other side, I am really wondering how you perceive the idea of collaborating with a broader range of thinkers, artists, critics, around the fundamental questions and ambitions you have. I do not aim to invoke only critical thinking around these topics, but I am wondering, how will we deal with these issues altogether?
I am observing more and more interest in the theoretical and critical field of art towards these scientific and technological topics, as well as a lot of ethical concerns when it comes to the outcomes. I am seeing more and more intentions to bring disciplines and opinions into discussions, with sometimes success, and it gives me hope. Although I am not sure how such collaborations are possible, I surely aim to invoke them and participate in those in the future.
I sadly can’t offer any of my dedication, specialization yet, as I am still myself figuring out how to conclude my experience within an art institution and still try to think how to open up my thinking and practice to a broader and more accessible platform. I am currently in the process of retracing my experience while doing this introduction course of robotics and to discuss this ideal of collaborative practices. This letter I am writing to you will open up this discussion, and I want to dare to send it before it loses its sense of urgency. The main reason I am getting in touch with you and your team is to somehow emphasize not to forget to implement critical thinking, philosophers, sociologists in your team, even as external elements. While I see more and more tech advancements, I also see more and more of a disillusioned youth who tries to seek truth in community and physicality of gathers and collaborative projects. I observe a confusing world that, indeed, aims to feel better in their brain, but also seeks to question why they feel so sick about this world in the first place.
With the platform and budget implemented in your projects, maybe it would be worth trying to represent to the world how critical thinking, theoretical, artistic, and scientific research come together to play and act stronger. This might bring your thinking and project towards actions that will indeed “make history”, but a history implemented with a consciousness of ethics and morals for such advancement. We need actors like you, but we also need more than ever statements and ethics about these practices, so we know also how to use and approach them with a critical sense. I believe this can only happen when these two sides meet. As a young maker and thinker, I want to believe in a futuristic world where we bring our desires and forces together, instead of creating even bigger bridges between disciplines and concerns. If the future is “going to be weird”, maybe we should think about it collectively, as humans.