Elon Musk believes humans must link up with machines in order to fight the inevitable onslaught of artificial intelligence. In a recent tweet, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO said technology from his latest company, Neuralink, will be ‘coming soon’
An Elon Musk-backed startup looking to connect human brains to computers has raised most of its $51 million funding target. According to a report by Bloomberg, Neuralink has raised $39 million of its planned $51 million funding round as per a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Prior funding rounds date back two years when the company raised $27 million after aiming for as much as $100 million. While it’s unclear what progress Neuralink has made in its technology if any, the filings come less than a month after the SpaceX and Tesla CEO foreshadowed the startup’s endeavors in an ambiguous tweet.
In a response on Twitter, Musk said Neuralink technology is ‘coming soon.’
In November last year, Musk told Axios that Neuralink technology would involve an ‘electrode to neutron interface at a micro level.’
More specifically, it would be ‘a chip and a bunch of tiny wires’ that’s implanted surgically into your skull.
‘The long term aspiration with Neuralink would be to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence and to achieve a sort of democratization of intelligence, such that it is not monopolistically held in a purely digital form by governments and large corporations,’ he said in the interview with Axios.
‘I believe this can be done…It’s probably on the order of a decade.’ Musk believes that humans will have to explore the cyborg-like technology as artificial intelligence continues to advance and become integrated into the products we use. ‘Essentially, how do we ensure that the future constitutes the sum of the will of humanity?’ Musk told Axios. ‘If we have millions of people with a high bandwidth link to the AI extension of themselves it would make everyone hyper smart.’
He likened AI to ‘digital intelligence’ that could spiral out of control if we don’t pay attention. ‘As the algorithms and the hardware improve, that digital intelligence will exceed biological intelligence by a substantial margin,’ Musk told Axios.
‘…We’re like children in a playground…We’re not paying attention.’ Ultimately, the development of implanted chips could be what stands in the way of the human race becoming an endangered species, Musk said. ‘…When a species of primate, homo sapiens, became much smarter than other primates, it pushed all the other ones into a very small habitat,’ he added. ‘So there are very few mountain gorillas and orangutans and chimpanzees – monkeys in general. ‘Even the jungles that they’re in are narrowly defined so they were sort of like big cages. ‘So, you know, that’s one possible outcome for us,’ Musk said.
Musk has long been a critic of artificial intelligence, warning that should it fall into the wrong hands or become too smart, it could wreak havoc on the world. He launched San Francisco-based Neuralink in 2016 to develop implantable brain-computer interfaces that could upload and download thoughts. Musk has envisioned other applications for the technology, in fields including medicine. One specific use would be reducing memory loss or curing spinal cord injuries, by implanting electrodes into the motor cortex of the brain, Musk said. This would ‘bypass the severed section of the spine and have effectively local microcontrollers near the muscle groups,’ he added. ‘It could restore full limb functionality,’ Musk told Axios.