A few weeks ago, details leaked that Elon Musk had backed a brain-computer interface venture founded to allow humans to keep up with the advancements made in machine intelligence. The company – Neuralink – is still in the earliest stages of development. To that end, we don’t know very much about it (at all).
However, we aren’t entirely in the dark. We know a few things. For example, we know that the company’s ultimate goal is to develop a device (a brain-computer interface, to be exact) that could be implanted into the brain in order to augment (see: improve) human intelligence. It could allow us to store memories externally, learn new skills and languages in seconds, and bring an end to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Of course, such work will take time. But Musk hopes to expedite this development through his work.
For a meaningful partial brain interface, I think we’re roughly four or five years away. -Elon Musk
Shortly after details leaked, Musk confirmed his plan in a tweet (he is well known for unveiling ideas and key company details via short Twitter posts). In this same tweet, he also promised more details – details which would be coming in April courtesy of the website Wait But Why. Must stated, “Long Neuralink piece coming out on Wait But Why in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to.”
Today, Wait But Why author, Tim Urban, announced that his 36,000-word post (which he affectionately refers to as the “800-pound hippo”) is scheduled to be released Monday, April 17.
The 800-pound baby hippo is almost birthed.
— Tim Urban (@waitbutwhy) April 12, 2017
Urban also wrote an update on his website noting that the full information would soon be here. He stated: “The post will be up Monday 4/17. It’s long. I’m me it’s shi**y.” Just between you and I, we seriously doubt that last part.
In case you weren’t aware, Musk isn’t the only one concerned about the future of humanity. Considering the rate at which AI research is accelerating, the fears seem justifiable. Like Musk, Braintree founder Bryan Johnson’s company, Kernal, is currently working on a neuroprosthesis that can mimic, repair, and improve human cognition.
“Being able to systematically and intelligently work with our neural code is the most consequential and pressing opportunity in the world today. All that we are, all that we do, all that we become will be a result of our progress,” explained Johnson in an interview with Futurism.
Notably, while advancements like those that Johnson and Musk are working on could allow us to merge with machines, they could also allow us to literally program (or reprogram) our neural code, which would allow us to transform ourselves in ways that we can’t even imagine.
In short, we could alter our brains and our cognition in order to engineer ourselves into the people that we want to be. The experts are ready. The question is, are humans prepared to adopt the technology?
Bryan Johnson is an investor in Futurism; he does not hold a seat on our editorial board or have any editorial review privileges.