Elon Musk revealed that with his brain-machine interface startup, Neuralink, he is aiming to allow humans to “achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” and that by “merging with AI,” humans will be able to keep up with AI. He plans to begin human trials on an early version of Neuralink intended to treat brain injuries next year.
“Ultimately we can do a full brain machine interface,” Musk said in an announcement that was widely livestreamed. “This is going to sound pretty weird. Ultimately, we can achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence. This is not a mandatory thing. This is something you can choose to have if you want. This is going to be really important at a civilization-level scale. Even in a benign AI scenario, we will be left behind. With a high-bandwidth brain machine interface we can go along for the ride and have the option of merging with AI.”
The company’s short-to-medium-term goals are to create a chip that can be implanted into the brain to treat a variety of brain injuries and diseases, including paralysis, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Musk said progress will be slow, and that the company will not suddenly unveil a chip that takes over people’s brain. At the very least, Musk mentioned that he wants to get FDA approval for the implants.
“Unless we have some sort of brain-machine interface that can solve brain ailments of all kinds, whether it’s an accident or congenital, any kind of disorder or a spinal disorder, we can solve that with a chip,” he said. “This is something most people don’t understand yet. All of this will occur quite slowly. It’s not like Neuralink will suddenly have neural lace and start taking over people’s brains. It will take a long time, and people will see it coming.”
Though the feasibility of the project is unclear, the brain-machine interfaces do show promise for treating people with brain injuries and diseases, and in that sense, this is a serious area of research that could potentially help many people.