Elon Musk has always demonstrated extraordinary capabilities; whether it is providing sustainable transportation made by his firm Tesla or reducing space cost to colonize mars through its firm SpaceX. Musk always comes up with distinctive technology that brings a new revolution in the world.
Neuralink, a neurotechnology company cofounded by Musk in 2016, develops implantable brain machines interface (BMIs) that could revolutionize the future of humanity. The main objective of Neuralink is to develop BMIs that would connect the human brain with a computer to treat brain injuries and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Musk further hinted that this chip when implanted in the brain is likely to enable a symbiosis between human and artificial intelligence.
Musk believes that the advancement of artificial intelligence could lead to mass unemployment, therefore, to survive in this competitive world humans need to merge their intelligence with machine intelligence.
Our brain functions with the help of specialized cells called neurons, which communicate with each other at the contact points known as synapses through the aid of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are released in response to an action potential. According to Musk, by implanting electrode threads in the brain, Neuralink can detect and record this action potential and can stimulate neurons accordingly. These threads are inserted by robots to minimize the damage to the brain and attached to sensors that can be controlled via smartphone for self-usage.
Musk already told during his Neurolink’s presentation that this technology had allowed a monkey to control a computer with his brain and soon the human trials will commence, mostly within a year. However, the company doesn’t have approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for trials on humans. Initially, the product would solely be focused on offering treatment to patients with brain injuries or neural diseases such as epilepsy and autism. Moreover, it would also help in restoring functionality that the person has lost such as eyesight or hearing and even memory retention in the elderly. It is expected to be the boon for paralyzed people making them self-sufficient in their daily tasks.
Humans have a large dependency on external devices like laptops and smartphones but with a low rate of communication. This AI-symbiosis could allow speedy interactions between the human brain and external devices resulting in enhanced productivity and growth. But the major concern about this technology is security as the implant can be controlled with smartphones, and if by any chance the phone is hacked, the results could be dangerous. Moreover, if this technology reaches the consumer, the price gap could result in social and economic inequality.
Is it good to combine artificial intelligence with the brain? How safe it would be? Would Musk’s grandiose be a boon or bane for the world? It’s really like a sort of science fiction that makes people excited but how it is going to impact human evolution, and in what ways, remains the big question.