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Last month, Elon Musk revealed Neuralink, his next venture that involves merging the brain and AI. And now he’s letting us know exactly how.
Musk, who is taking on the role of CEO, contacted Wait But Why, a self-proclaimed procrastination website, to flesh out the idea — starting with the history of the brain from the very first nerve and ending at Musk’s ideal future.
Essentially, Musk sees human communication as a limiting experience. When we want to tell someone about an emotion or concept in our brain, that idea has to be shaped into the mould of language, pushed out and into someone else’s brain, where they use their knowledge of language and experience to understand it. The process leaves much to be desired.
It’s not surprising why: humans have had this ability to communicate since 50 000 BC — and very little in the way of how we do it has changed since then.
With Neuralink, humans could use AI as an extension of being, rather than a completely different I, Robot-like identity
But Elon Musk thinks that Neuralink could provide the next revolution for communication. Once computers are able to read exactly what’s happening in the brain, and send that information off to other brains or computers, the human being may be able to keep up with the rapid advancement of AI.
Musk has never shied away from expressing his aversion to artificial intelligence. In 2014, he claimed that it was an even bigger threat than nuclear war (though this was a time before US President Donald Trump).
Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 3, 2014
In January 2015, he (along with Stephen Hawking and other AI experts) signed an open letter on artificial intelligence, calling for more research on the societal impacts of AI.
With Neuralink, humans could use AI as an extension of being, rather than a completely different I, Robot-like identity. This could potentially subdue the desire to create the singularity.
The tech is still young, but Musk says he’s hoping to have technology for those suffering from severe brain injuries in just four years.
Augmenting non-disabled minds may take a bit longer. Few people want under-the-skull brain surgery, less want hackable technology inside their brains, and the technology doesn’t really exist yet. But Musk is optimistic that people will change their minds.
“We’re going to have the choice of either being left behind and being effectively useless or like a pet — you know, like a house cat or something — or eventually figuring out some way to be symbiotic and merge with AI,” he says.
Featured image: Amy Leonard via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)