In 2016, Elon Musk created a company called Neuralink with the goal of developing implantable brain-computer interfaces in humans. The short-term goal of the company is to treat people with brain injuries caused by stroke or other diseases, and could be available as early as next year.
Neuralink has developed “threads” to link human brains to computers. Darren Woon writes:
While the technology will initially be used to help paraplegics control computers through implanted chips in their brains, the potential implications suggest that it could one day change and improve the way humans think and communicate.
Musk said the chip will help “preserve and enhance your own brain” and “ultimately achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence”. At an event in San Francisco, he revealed that the system was already being tested on a monkey, which had “controlled a computer using its brain”.
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Of course, this kind of technology has potential for other applications as well.
Earlier this week, Elon Musk announced that in addition to cortical (sensory/motor control) and limbic (emotions, memory, learning) systems, Neuralink has the potential to add a third layer of ‘superintelligence’ to the human brain (while hopefully avoiding the pitfall of becoming slaves to our robot overlords), as Mike Brown of Inverse reports:
“It’s important that Neuralink solves this problem sooner rather than later, because the point at which we have digital superintelligence, that’s when we pass the singularity and things become just very uncertain,” Musk said during an interview with MIT professor Lex Fridman.
Musk was keen to note that the singularity, a hypothesized point where machines grow so advanced that humanity slips into an irreversible change, may not necessarily be good or bad. He did state, however, that “things become extremely unstable” after that point, which means Neuralink would need to achieve its human-brain linkup either before or not long after “to minimize the existential risk for humanity and consciousness as we know it.”
According to Brown, Neuralink plans to implant a chip into the brain of a human patient suffering from quadriplegia due to C1-C4 spinal cord injury by the end of next year.
This type of system would make communication with devices incredibly efficient, as we currently have to think about what we want the device to do, say/type what we want the device to do, then get frustrated and yell at our Google Assistant when it doesn’t understand what we’re telling it to do.
This would bypass that, in a way that I imagine would be rather similar to how we don’t really have to spend much effort at all thinking about how to move our arm to reach out and grab a slice of pizza.
You can watch the full interview below.