Elon Musk ain’t Beyonce but he wants to upgrade you. His human-computer interface startup Neuralink came out of stealth mode yesterday and showed off some of its new technologies.

Elon Musk, yesterday.

What’s the backstory?

Musk believes at some point, AI will become so advanced, humans will be relegated to “house cat” status. To avoid becoming AI’s pets, Musk argues that our brains should be merged with AI. In 2017, he founded Neuralink to develop an interface between humans and computer.

“Achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence” – Elon Musk 

Yesterday, Musk confirmed Neuralink’s longterm goal is to achieve a symbiosis with AI. He added merging with AI won’t be a mandatory thing but once again argued that AI symbiosis is going to be “really important at a civilization-level scale” and without it, humans will be “left behind”.

So where are we on this Man-Machine thing?

Musk and the Neuralink team say it’s still a long way to go. For now, their aim is medical (to potentially treat people with paralysis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and etc.) and the plan is to use a sewing machine-like robot that implant the sensors deep within a person’s brain tissue. Depending on FDA approval, Neuralink is hoping to start clinical trials on humans as soon as the 2nd quarter of 2020.

Let’s pump the brakes, tho. Do we even want this?

Hard for us (or anybody) to say, if Musk is right about the house cat scenario, then shit… we won’t really have a choice but to get with the program. He could very well be wrong and just be projecting his techno-utopia fantasies, tho. Plus, artificial intelligence, being developed mostly by white males in Silicon Valley, is showing serious bias problems – do we want those biases to be merged with our brains? Moreover, Musk isn’t exactly known for being a stable person and his Tesla biz has been hit with numerous quality scandals. What if we get Neuralink Model S or whatever inserted in our brains only to later find out they were faulty?

At least they’re now being open about it. 

Max Hodak, Neuralink’s president told NYTimes yesterday that they came out of stealth mode so that they can keep building and do things like normal people, such as publish papers”. Neuralink plans to work with neurosurgeons at Stanford U and possibly other institutions. Maybe with open collaborations with outside partners and more transparency, we will get to see what they’re really about.

 

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