Elon Musk must not be busy enough with his Boring company, Space X and Tesla, because he just became CEO of another company, and this one has a goal of turning us all into cyborgs. Neuralink, a San Francisco-based startup, says they are “developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers” and Musk says he hopes to start delivering some of the new technology by 2021.
Musk hinted that he was working on neural lacing last year, though details were scant, but he has never been shy about his opinion that we should be connecting our brains to computers. According to TechCrunch, Musk wants to make that leap with Neuralink. He wants to integrate our brains and computers, or allow us to connect cloud-based artificial intelligence computing with our selves. This could allow humans to communicate directly with each other, instead of having to compress thoughts into language.
It sounds like science fiction. Musk explained it in detail to Tim Urban of Wait But Why. Musk said we already are cyborgs; we’ve “already kind of merged” with smartphones and laptops. He added, “You’re already digitally superhuman. The thing that would change is the interface – having a high-bandwidth interface to your digital enhancements. The thing is that today, the interface all necks down to this tiny straw, which is, particularly in terms of output, it’s like poking things with your meat sticks, or using words – either speaking or tapping things with fingers. And in fact, output has gone backwards. It used to be, in your most frequent form, output would be ten-finger typing. Now, it’s like, two-thumb typing. That’s crazy slow communication. We should be able to improve that by many orders of magnitude with a direct neural interface.”
Neuralink’s product probably won’t be ready for the public any time soon – it could be eight to 10 years for people without disabilities, according to Musk, who said the timeline depends both on regulatory approval and how well the devices could work for disabled people. In the meantime, Musk said that he plans to deliver something “that helps with certain severe brain injuries (stroke, cancer lesion, congenital) in about four years.” If you want to dig more into the project, Urban wrote a 36,000-word explanation. About the piece, Musk said on Twitter, “Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to.”