The Grapevine

Elon Musk Gives Update About His Brain-Computing Interface

The visionary Elon Musk, more famous as the founder of Tesla and SpaceX but less known as the founder of Neuralink, seems to want our ordinary human brains to one day compete with artificial intelligence (AI) using what’s called a brain-machine interface (BMI).

Attaching implantable BMIs that will make human brains almost as smart as AI algorithms seems to be a long-term goal of Neuralink, a neurotechnology founded by Musk and others in 2017.

What we know is that Neuralink aims to make devices that treat serious brain diseases in the short-term. The eventual goal of Neuralink research, however, is human enhancement, which is sometimes called transhumanism, abbreviated as H+.

H+ is an international philosophical movement championing the transformation of the human condition by developing and making sophisticated technologies widely available to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology. Boosting human brainpower is a way to attain H+.

Musk explained the long-term goal of Neuralink is to achieve "symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” which Musk perceives as an existential threat to humanity if left unchecked.

Musk aims to link BMIs that can interface at broadband speed with other types of external software and gadgets. The result will be the next generation of humans, the transhuman.

Neuralink remains highly secretive about its work but public records show it has sought to open an animal testing facility in San Francisco. It’s presently doing research at the University of California Davis.

Musk Elon Musk speaks onstage at Elon Musk Answers Your Questions! during SXSW at ACL Live on March 11, 2018. Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW

Musk this week hinted at what might be the development of a BMI that will hook human brains up to computers. He said new information about this eagerly anticipated development will be "coming soon."

Musk said a "direct cortical interface" such as a BMI could allow humans to reach higher levels of cognition and give humans a better shot at competing against AI.

Recent leaks revealed a still unpublished academic paper by five authors employed by or associated with Neuralink. Their study describes a "sewing machine" for the brain in the form of a needle-like device inserted into a rat's skull to implant a bendable polymer electrode in the brain that will read the brain's electrical signals.

Neuralink hasn’t commented on this device, which from its description is a form of BMI

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