Elon Musk wants to enhance the human brain with AI

Elon Musk has clearly not watched Black Mirror — or he’s just one of the few who couldn’t wait for it to become a reality.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Musk’s latest venture is in merging natural biology with digital intelligence. This could see humans being granted better memory (a la season one’s The Entire History) or connect to computers with our thoughts (season three’s Playtest?).

Musk has been hinting at this attempt for a few months, but its still in very early stages. The biggest obstacle it faces is the lack of complete understanding of the brain.

Bryan Johnson is someone who understands the amount of research we’ll need before diving into cyborg territory.

Kernel, Johnson’s startup, aims to use technology with the brain to fight symptoms of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. In October last year, Johnson invested US$100 million of his own money into research for the company.

The human brain enhanced by AI? Elon Musk thinks its totally possible

For now, the company seeks to better understand “neural code” — the function of our brains that stores and recalls information.

“We can program yeast to do a specific function. We can expect the same path with neural code,” Johnson said, according to TechCrunch.

Musk and Johnson aren’t the only ones using software to better understand — and therefore manipulate — the brain.

The Human Connectome Project is the first large scale attempt at mapping out the human brain as software.

Currently, these ventures are only intended for those suffering from severe cognitive disorders. This is largely due to the fact that humans aren’t exactly enthusiastic with people fiddling with their brain unless it’s a last resort.

It’s also due to the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration strictly regulates the enhancement of the human brain.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Musk founded the company in California in July — so for now he’ll have to follow the rules and regulations of the US FDA.

But just in case, don’t go accepting cash for tests to your brain just yet. Unless you want to end up like that poor dude in Playtest, give the companies maybe ten years before allowing them access.

Featured image: OnInnovation via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)



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