Elon Musk may be on the cusp of unveiling a brain-machine interface capable of connecting humans directly to computers.
The founder of PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and tunnel-digging venture The Boring Company. But since 2016 he has been working on a venture called Neuralink that many believe to be his most ambitious project ever.
The startup has been in the process of recruiting some of the world’s leading neuroscientists and artificial intelligence experts in its endeavour to create what it describes on its website as an “ultra-high bandwidth” connection between a computer and a human brain.
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This could conceivably allow humans to artificially augment their memory capacity, or possibly connect directly to the internet and summon knowledge just by thinking a question.
Whether or not this is actually possible remains to be seen but Neuralink has already raised tens of millions of dollars to find out.
Very few details have been given about the Neuralink project, beyond a 2017 post on the WaitButWhy website detailed how the “Wizards hat for the brain” concept would improve human ability to communicate, think, and even compete on a level with artificial intelligence.
Mr Musk has consistently warned of the dangers posed by advanced artificial intelligence, claiming that it poses an existential risk to humanity.
Speaking at a conference in 2016, the billionaire polymath said humans risk falling behind intellectually to machines to the point we are treated like pets by our robot overlords.
“I don’t like the idea of being a house cat, but what’s the solution?” he said. “I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer.”
In 2018, he gave more details about what this artificial intelligence “layer” might look like when he appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, claiming that Neuralink’s technology would allow humans to “effectively merge with AI”.
Exactly what the firm has been working on will be revealed at an event in San Francisco this week, with a livestream of the proceedings available on Neuralink’s website.