, September 26, 2021

Neuralink: human-computer interfaces could be here this year


  •   2 min reads
Neuralink: human-computer interfaces could be here this year

Forget about the monkey playing pong; Neuralink's brain to computer interfaces could be tested in humans later this year.

Of all of the technologies we hear about these days, none seem closer to the fantasy world created in science fiction than brain-computer interfaces. Forget sliding doors, teleporting, and food replicators, technology that enables us to be enhanced by machines is as close to mind-blowing science fiction as you can get. This is why Neurolink, co-founded by Elon Musk, is such a fascinating company. To the question, will AI replace us? The answer from Musk and his team at Neronlink is "no, because we can merge with AI, instead."

That sounds scary, it is clearly technology that could change us, but then technology has been changing us and indeed augmenting us for thousands of years. Suppose you are working on a tricky problem and are trying to juggle lots of concepts. The brain struggles to handle all the combinations and permutations so we grab a piece of paper and pencil. That technology augments us; it enables us to explore ideas that we couldn't have considered before it was invented. In a way, a pencil and paper makes us more intelligent: the equation is simple: human plus pencil and paper is greater than human for solving specific tasks. Did we get replaced by paper? Did pencils decimate jobs?  But what that technology did do was cause disruption; it created change.

Neuralink says: "if you can't beat them, join them."

AI, perhaps powered by a combination of traditional and quantum computers, will be one of the most disruptive technologies ever invented, up there with paper and pencil (or ink), up there with the printing press and the internet. If we let it, AI will make us irrelevant, like the humans in the Disney movie Wall-E, as was explored in the book, Living in the Age of the Jerk.  If instead we let it enhance us, augment us, we will be changed, but we won't become irrelevant.

Recently, we told here how Neuralink had inserted a link into the brain of Pager, a macaque. The little fellow was then able to play Pong, just by thinking. It is like telekinesis, the ability to control inanimate objects with our minds.

But Pager is a monkey, what about us?

In a recent conversation on Twitter, Hamoon Kamai Tweeted;

"I was in a car accident 20 years ago and have been paralysed from the shoulders ever since. I'm always available for clinical studies at Neuralink."

Elon Musk replied: "Neuralink is working super hard to ensure implant safety & is in close communication with the FDA. If things go well, we might be able to do initial human trials later this year."

The journey towards human-brain to computer interfaces is beginning; it will change humanity.

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