Neuralink: Elon Musk promises to show a working brain-computer chip for 'human-AI symbiosis'

Billionaire says humans risk being overtaken by artificial intelligence within the next five years

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 26 August 2020 14:26
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Elon Musk unveils Neuralink 'threads' that hook human brain directly to computers

Elon Musk has said he will demonstrate a functional brain-computer interface this week during a live presentation from his mysterious Neuralink startup.

The billionaire entrepreneur, who also heads SpaceX and Tesla, founded Neuralink in 2016 with the ultimate aim of merging artificial intelligence with the human brain.

Until now, there has only been one public event showing off the startup's technology, during which Musk revealed a "sewing machine-like" device capable of stitching threads into a person's head.

The procedure to implant the chip will eventually be similar in speed and efficiency to Lasik laser eye surgery, according to Musk, and will be performed by a robot.

The robot and the working brain chip will be unveiled during a live webcast at 3pm PT (11pm BST) on Friday, Musk tweeted on Tuesday night.

In response to a question on Twitter, he said that the comparison with laser eye surgery was still some way off. "Still far from Lasik, but could get pretty close in a few years," he tweeted.

He also said that Friday's demonstration would show "neurons firing in real-time... the matrix in the matrix."

The device has already been tested on animals and human trials were originally planned for 2020, though it is not yet clear whether they have started.

In the build up to Friday's event, Musk has drip fed details about Neuralink's technology and the capabilities it could deliver to people using it.

In a series of tweets last month, he said the chip "could extend the range of hearing beyond normal frequencies and amplitudes," as well as allow wearers to stream music directly to their brain.

Other potential applications include regulating hormone levels and delivering "enhanced abilities" like greater reasoning and anxiety relief.

Earlier this month, scientists unconnected to Neuralink unveiled a new bio-synthetic material that they claim could be used to help integrate electronics with the human body.

The breakthrough could help achieve Musk's ambition of augmenting human intelligence and abilities, which he claims is necessary allow humanity to compete with advanced artificial intelligence.

He claims that humans risk being overtaken by AI within the next five years, and that AI could eventually view us in the same way we currently view house pets.

"I don't love the idea of being a house cat, but what's the solution?" he said in 2016, just months before he founded Neuralink. "I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer."

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