One of the biggest concerns with the coming technological singularity is that much like Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron, a super-intelligent AI may conclude that humans are the real problem, and proceed to either exterminate or enslave us forever.
Perhaps not so tangential to these concerns, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk had recently announced that he will be backing a brand new AI-focused business venture. Named as Neuralink, it is built to combine organic and artificial brains to let humans finally step up their evolutionary game.
The Grand Predicament
As it would seem, Elon Musk didn’t exactly come up with the idea in just one night. Most of his supporters already know that he is one of the most prominent figures holding an understandably pessimistic view of our AI dominated future. He called AI, “the biggest existential threat“. He went so far even as to caution scientists and researchers to exercise utmost vigilance in creating a system that will ensure that “we would never do something foolish“.
More importantly, however, Elon Musk has actually given hints about the startup company already, in the form of not-so-cryptic messages in the last few months. Throughout his public appearances and in social media, he has at least mentioned topics that are related to the merging of brains and computers. In one of his presentation talks last month, for instance, Elon Musk has stated that humans should be one with machines, lest they become eventually obsolete. These voiced sentiments indirectly laid the groundwork to his announcement of the new startup a few days ago.
Brains and Computers: Just the Next Step
Brain-computer interfaces, as many of us already know, aren’t exactly new. The forefront of its research has some very important and potentially groundbreaking applications in medical science, as a potential aid or accessory to damaged brains and neurodegenerative disorders. As an enhancement, it offers the possibility of uploading neural information to a physical medium, something that is generally tackled in the concept of digital immortality.
As for Elon Musk’s upcoming Neuralink, there are still no technical details revealed, unfortunately. One of his tweets, however, did state that he’s about to present the company’s core concept in its official entirety in about a few days. Will this be markedly different from the development direction many tech firms and research organizations already took? Is it really going to be sci-fi level stuff? Would this unlock another frontier in AI research? We shall know very soon.
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
See you in a week Elon!