The Wall Street Journal reported the launch of Neuralink, the new Elon Musk (photo ©Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media) company. The restless founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors has opened another company to develop a technology that allows to directly connect the human brain to a computer. Neuralink was registered as a medical research company because the project doesn’t have a transhumanist purpose only but also aims to develop treatments for neurological problems.
Last year Elon Musk already started talking about projects involving a direct interface between the human brain and computers. He called it a “neural lace”, an expression attributed to the writer Iain M. Banks, who apparently is liked by Musk because the names of the two SpaceX marine drone ships’ names were inspired by Banks’s novels. In both cases, those are novels set in the distant future in a civilization known as the Culture. Too far to Musk, who intends to develop this type of technology in the near future.
Another issue that Elon Musk has spoken several times about in recent years is that of the potential hazards arising from artificial intelligence developments. For this reason, he’s among the supporters of the OpenAI project that intends to develop that kind of development in an open and transparent way to ensure that it’s for the good of humanity and not someone’s agenda.
One of the solutions to the problem of a possible future conflict between human and artificial intelligence is given by the merger of the two but to obtain it we need an interface which allows a communication between them in order to obtain a real symbiosis. The possibilities, however, are beyond the transhumanist goal of a mind augmented by the symbiosis between the human brain and the computer because according to the reports there’s also a medical purpose.
Already today implants with electrodes used to try to control the symptoms of diseases such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease are in development. Technologies such as the neural lace could also be used to increase the effectiveness of this type of cure, also for other neurodegenerative diseases.
Today implanting electrodes and more in a brain is very complex, so it’s a field yet to be explored. If a technology used in many ways including those in the medical field could be developed, many people who currently have little hope of improvement may benefit from it.
Now it’s impossible to say if such a project will be successful and how long it might take for a neural lace to actually be implanted in a human being’s brain. There are many problems of various kinds and if the project will be successful an interface of this kind would create new security problems. On the other hand, Elon Musk’s successes show that betting against him usually means losing.