The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk has launched a brain-computer interface venture called Neuralink, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence.
Currently, people interact with their devices by thumb-typing on their phones, Musk said. A “high-bandwidth interface to the brain” would help achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and could make humans more useful in an AI-driven world, he said.
Musk has hinted at the existence of Neuralink a few times over the last six months or so. More recently, Musk told a crowd in Dubai, “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.” He added that “it’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output.” On Twitter, Musk has responded to inquiring fans about his progress on a so-called “neural lace,” which is sci-fi shorthand for a brain-computer interface humans could use to improve themselves.
Long Neuralink piece coming out on @waitbutwhy in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 28, 2017
Although the notion of brain-computer communication may seem far-fetched, implanting electrodes into human beings isn’t a new concept, as it’s already being used to treat Parkinson’s disease. According to the Wall Street Journal, Neuralink’s technology could be used to treat other brain disorders as well, including epilepsy and more severe cases of depression.
Musk isn’t the only one hoping to develop a relationship between the brain and computers, either, as Facebook is already researching a similar technology through Building 8, its secret hardware division. The social media giant is designing a noninvasive brain-computer interface technology that will enable users to communicate with external hardware devices. Researchers at the University of California and Duke University are also creating brain-computer interface technology that gives people with paraplegia the ability to walk again.
At the end of the day, AI isn’t something that needs to be feared. Recently, there’s been a lot of talk within the scientific community on how AI poses a threat to the workforce and that “a world full of AI could be a world devoid of consciousness.” What so many people seem to be forgetting is that we are fundamentally connected to everything in the universe and that everything in the world is made up of consciousness, both of which include AI.
In some way, AI is a reflection of the collective consciousness, so no matter what happens, it will serve us. Even though AI technically poses a threat to many jobs, this will simply allow us to have more time to do what we love and focus on advancing society and heightening our creativity.