Shiny blue brain

Elon Musk’s new sci-fi project Neuralink hopes to connect the human brain with AI

Image credit: Dreamstime

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, is backing a new startup that is seeking to develop smart devices to be implanted in the human brain, pursuing one of the most sci-fi inspired ideas the world has ever heard of.

As automation increases and machines become increasingly intelligent, Musk thinks it would be useful to find a way to make human access to AI even easier, by directly connecting the brain with computers. 

Neuralink is a newly established startup that aims to create cranial computers to treat diseases and merge new advanced software abilities with the human brain. 

In addition to potentially treating brain diseases such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s, the implanted device would also act as a sort of “digital layer” that merges human grey matter with advanced technological tools. 

This would improve human beings’ memory, knowledge and skills, by providing direct access to processes that are usually carried out by computers alone.

According to Musk, this would allow humans to keep up with advances in Artificial Intelligence, a field of technology that he previously said could be a threat to humanity. In 2016, Musk stated that humans will need to be upgraded to keep up with advances in AI. Musk has also previously lent his support to the OpenAI project, backed by Google holding company Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon. 

Musk had already discussed similar ideas to Neuralink at ReCode’s Code Conference last year, where he first introduced the notion of what he termed “neural lace”, a further layer of the brain that enables machine-like capabilities.

So far, Musk has released little information about Neuralink, but ReCode says the company is listed as a “medical research” organisation and has a man called Jared Birchall as its CEO.

On social media, Tesla’s CEO has been referring to AI and digital intelligence often over the past few months, possibly preparing his followers for the announcement of his new project.

During a speech he gave at a recent event in Dubai, Musk said: “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence. It’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output.”

This is only the latest of Musk’s potentially ground breaking business ventures, after he started experimenting with self-driving cars and founded Space X, a company that aims to develop revolutionary space technology that would allow human beings to inhabit other planets.

The web domain is currently a single blank static page, with only a small logo and e-mail address inviting job applications, roles unspecified.

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