There some big news allegedly coming out this Friday from Elon Musk. This time, however, it’s nothing to do with his SpaceX rocket program, his Tesla electric cars or even the Boring Company, which is trying to create train tunnels across the country. This is yet another of Musk’s many brainchildren, with a significant emphasis on the “brain” part. Elon has an outfit named Neuralink which is hoping to perfect the technology required to have a functional interface between machines and the human brain up and running in the very near future. And this week he’s promised a demonstration that will show it’s not just some pie-in-the-sky dream. He’s going to show neurons firing in a human brain in realtime.
Will show neurons firing in real-time on August 28th. The matrix in the matrix.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2020
I don’t know about you, but that sounds rather alarming to me. Of course, the idea that our brain cells are sometimes firing in a frenzy and at other times sitting idle shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, I suppose. But what does he plan on doing with it? Well, once you have a chip that can read all of your brainwaves and decode what’s going on in there, an Artificial Intelligence program can interpret the signals and give directions to robotic limbs or almost anything else. (Teslarati)
“Wait until you see the next version vs what was presented last year. It’s *awesome*,” he wrote in February. “The profound impact of high bandwidth, high precision neural interfaces is underappreciated. Neuralink may have this in a human as soon as this year. Just needs to be unequivocally better than Utah Array, which is already in some humans & has severe drawbacks.”
As its name implies, the roles of neuron activities are very important to Neuralink’s technology. The venture’s long-term goal of obtaining human symbiosis with artificial intelligence (AI) begins by connecting electrodes throughout the brain and reading its neuron signals en masse. Gathering huge amounts of data from the signals gradually teaches Neuralink’s software how they are used by the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, ultimately leading to a certain amount of replication and direction. The possibilities of such a capability seem endless.
Before anyone starts freaking out here (and by “anyone” I mostly mean me), I can understand the value of technology like this. People who are paralyzed or lose one or more of their limbs could conceivably use robotic replacements to return to normal functionality if they can control them seamlessly with only their thoughts. That’s some space-age technology right out of the movies and it could almost certainly make a huge difference in such patients’ lives.
But at the same time, let’s be honest here. We’re talking about actual cyborgs now. Are we really mature enough as a species to handle this sort of advancement? Also, will some otherwise normally healthy people (who can afford it) opt to have robotic improvements installed to turn themselves into superhumans?
And then there’s the AI component to worry about. If you’ve got an Artificial Intelligence program capable of monitoring all of your brain activity and interpreting it in realtime, doesn’t that mean that the AI is already smarter than us? It’s hard to escape the feeling that we’re leaning in closer and closer to SKYNET now. If your own brain can control the robotics using the AI as an interface, then the the AI is fully capable of controlling the robotics on its own, right? Or am I just being paranoid again?
In any event, if Musk has an upgraded version of what’s already available, it will probably be alarmingly good. The fact is that people have already been developing this sort of technology for a while. I’ll leave you with a video of a guy controlling a drone with nothing but his brain. Welcome to Tomorrowland, folks. It’s already upon us.