Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX is raising millions toward another breakthrough — inside our heads.
Musk is $27 million toward a goal of as much as $100 million to fund development of a project called Neuralink. The tech billionaire wants to keep tomorrow’s artificial intelligence from rendering humanity obsolete by using its brain power to enhance our own.
Using what Musk has dubbed a “neural lace,” the human mind would have its processing and data storage capacity exponentially increased by offloading some of the work to a powerful computer. The installation of a neural microchip would allow us to seamlessly integrate our capacity for creative thought with the raw silicon horsepower, granting us quite literally superhuman intellect.
The idea is as ambitious as it is fraught with peril; concerns about the eventual obsolescence of a chip that would require actual brain surgery to replace, and the concept of privacy in a world where your memories exist on a hard drive top the list. Additionally, it means that any error in programming this interface would be fed directly into your brain, bringing an entirely new level of gravity to software bugs, let alone computer viruses.
Neuralink registered as a medical research company in California in July 2016. Since then, it has gained at least 12 investors, six of which may be non-accredited. Musk has been deliberately obtuse regarding the specifics. When questioned, he responded as such:
Let me check on that for you. Found the answer right here: 🔥💩
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 25, 2017
So, while Musk isn’t feeling particularly helpful regarding Neuralink’s financial outlook, he cannot evade the real question: will neural augmentation become humanity’s deus ex machina, or will it simply leave mankind divided?
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