Elon Musk, the futurist billionaire behind SpaceX and Tesla, outlined his plans to connect humans’ brains directly to computers on Tuesday night, describing a campaign to create “symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” He said the first prototype could be implanted in a person by the end of next year.
Arriving at that goal “will take a long time,” Musk said in a presentation at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, noting that securing federal approval for implanted neural devices is difficult. But testing on animals is already underway, and “a monkey has been able to control the computer with his brain,” he said.
Musk founded Neuralink Corp. in July 2016 to create “ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.” The company said in 2017 that its initial goal was to devise brain interfaces to alleviate the symptoms of chronic medical conditions.
It’s widely presumed, however, that Musk is characteristically after something much larger. He has frequently warned that the rapid advance of artificial intelligence, or AI, threatens to leave humanity in the dust, calling it an existential risk.
Musk repeated Tuesday night that one of the goals of Neuralink was to treat brain disorders, saying, “We can solve that with a chip.”
But he went on to say that it also sought to help you “preserve and enhance your own brain” and to “create a well-aligned future.”
As he has before, Musk warned that as it stands, humanity is at risk of being left behind by the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence, or AI — “even in a benign AI scenario — hopefully, it is a benign scenario.”
Addressing that, Musk said Tuesday, will require finding a way for the brain to “merge” with AI, most likely through tiny wireless chips implanted in the brain through a 2-millimeter incision to create what he called “some sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” with a goal of no less than securing “humanity’s future as a civilization relative to AI.”