This innovative—yet controversial—technology could allow humans to communicate through telepathy, have “superpowers” and solve some degenerative diseases of the brain. Furthermore, according to Elon Musk, these brain chips could help prevent Artificial Intelligence from taking over mankind.
However, the idea itself raises a number of questions which many experts can’t really answer.
Is it correct? Is it ethical? And should mankind begin fusing with machines?
Despite the fact we as a society may not have an answer for those questions yet, Elon Musk’s Neuralink is planning to conduct animal trials.
It’s a logical and necessary next step. Apparently.
If Musk’s Neuralink ever wants to connect human minds with machines, it will first have to be tested on animals, something that could soon happen according to Gizmodo, as Neuralink has requested from the University of California a permit to experiment with lab animals and build “a small operating room for testing and another area to house rodents.”
Furthermore, Neuralink is also looking for staff to work in San Francisco on “nanotechnology and next-generation microelectromechanical systems”.
“While many of our resources can be found in typical semiconductor process environments, we are highly interdisciplinary, and the usage often deviates from traditional semiconductor processing,” the listing says.
Microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, are fundamental tools for establishing brain-machine interfaces.
A calculation presented last month by Grand View Research projected that the market for these devices as medical implants could reach 57,000 million dollars by 2025.
This figure includes devices applicable beyond the brain, such as pacemakers.
However, Neuralink’s interest in MEMS is in line with Musk’s ambition to commercialize a chip that can help people with brain damage and, in his words, “prevent machines with artificial intelligence from overtaking us.”
As noted by Gizmodo, a spokesperson for Neuralink declined to comment on this story and Musk did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the comments of the people who are currently working on Neuralink, Musk’s company is focusing on something known as ‘neural cord’, which is based on small brain electrodes that can one day be charged to enhance our capabilities.
Broadly speaking, Neuralink is a neuroscience company that plans to develop ‘cranial computers’.
The first step of the company will be to treat diseases such as epilepsy, major depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, but as noted by Musk, these implants could help us prevent AI taking over, something that Musk mentioned a few months ago saying that “Or humans are fused with machines, or artificial intelligence will make us irrelevant.”
I think now we all know what he meant.
Featured image credit: Reddit.