Musk’s Neuralink Venture May Connect the Human Mind to AI

March 31, 2017 - 2 minutes read

The tech world is abuzz this week with chatter about Elon Musk’s latest privately-funded venture Neuralink. Details about the “medical research” company are scant, but everyone seems to be in agreement that the purpose of the venture is to pursue Musk’s dream of “neural lace” technology. The idea is to create a direct connection between the human brain and a computer system, augmenting and enhancing our cognitive abilities with the aid of AI. It’s a concept that has predictably sent many an excitable app developer into sci-fi reveries or dark prognostications, and how could it not? Musk himself is known for that sort of talk — it’s a big part of why people are so fascinated with him.

Musk has made several provocative comments about AI in the past that have led some to frame Neuralink as some sort of check on the burgeoning technology he once likened to a “demon.” If the company is able to realize the potential of the technology, neural lace may be a way to keep the human mind relevant and competitive in some sort of AI-gone-awry future. Along with the OpenAI initiative, a program co-founded by Musk and Sam Altman with the goal of promoting ethically sound open-source AI research, Neuralink could be a positive force in the development of AI, keeping the sort of dystopian scenario some NYC mobile app developers fear at bay.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Neuralink is registered as a medical research company, and that’s likely a good indication of the area where it’s initial research will focus. Brain-computer interface tech has so far focused mainly on neuroprosthetics, incorporating digital intelligence to restore functionality to the brains of those with neurological injuries or diseases. MedTech app developers can expect Neuralink to build on that research first before it gets around to delaying the singularity.

We’ll know more about Neuralink when more details are revealed in Wait But Why piece expected to drop next week.

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