December 2, 2019 • Evelyn J. Arevalo
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, founded Neuralink, a company that plans to connect humans with machines via a brain chip implant. During a podcast interview with Lex Fridman, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Musk talked about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be superior than humans. It could get so out of control that humans will not be able to match it, stop it, nor beat its level of intelligence. Allowing a machine to become superintelligent could change civilization as we know it. It could be beneficial in some ways, but it could potentially be dangerous for the survival of our species. Musk has warned on several occasions, says if AI reaches singularity "things become extremely unstable" after that point. Singularity is when AI grows too advanced to the point it is irreversible, and humans will not be able to achieve AI's level of intellect. AIs could end up destroying the planet in a pursuit of their own goals and getting rid of humans by accident... or not by accident. At that point, AI could become 'aware' of its superiority, humans will be like ants to machine!
According to Musk, Neuralink could add a third layer of digital superintelligence in the human brain to avoid AI machine enslavement. Says that he started the company to achieve human connection with AI before the singularity event "to minimize the existential risk for humanity and consciousness as we know it."
Neuralink aims to one day give humans digital AI superintelligence. "If you can't beat them, join them."
During the podcast with Fridman, Musk stated that the technology Neuralink is developing could one day avoid some of the worst scenarios in the battle of humans versus advanced artificially intelligent machines. They are currently working on using the device to treat various medical conditions and eventually plan to expand the devices capabilities to merge AI superintelligence with the human brain. Musk said:
"It’s important that Neuralink solves this problem sooner rather than later, because the point at which we have digital superintelligence, that’s when we pass the singularity and things become just very uncertain."
The first Neuralink chip implant on a human will be done before the end of next year. The company's current focus is treating paralyzed patients with quadriplegia due to C1-C4 spinal cord injury. They will implant four of their N1 chips in the brain's cortex. One chip by the somatic sensory cortex and three chips by the motor areas. These chips
have very small thread wires, as thin as a human hair, these will be threaded into the brain where they can stimulate the neurons or nerve cells. The chips will also be wired to an inductive coil that connects to a battery behind one ear to power the system. The final version of the Neuralink device will be accessed wirelessly, via a bluetooth connection. Enabling the user to control their cell phone or any computer system and machine, including prosthetics with their brain.
Musk explained during the podcast that the human brain has two systems. The first layer, is the limbic system which drives impulses. The second layer, is the cortex system that tries to control the limbic system by acting as an intelligence layer. The third layer can be Neuralink, sitting on top of those two layers to work together. He stated:
"Perhaps there can be a tertiary layer where digital superintelligence lies. That will be vastly more intelligent than the cortex but still co-exist peacefully and in a benign manner with the cortex and limbic system.”
In the future, perhaps this device would allow humans to be equal to artificial intelligence by merging, achieving "a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence."