Are we on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? During the Neuralink launch on Tuesday, Elon Musk presented his brain-controlled interfaces (BCI) as humanity’s “symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”
Musk states that the Neuralink will begin by assisting cancer patients, stroke victims, paralysis, or other brain or nervous system diseases. "This has a very good purpose, which is to cure important diseases — and ultimately to secure humanity's future as a civilization relative to AI," Musk said at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
With top research labs building these interfaces, the live-action Tony Stark has expressed caution for AI and hopes to get out in front of the problem. He believes that even in “a benign scenario, we will be left behind.” But Musk states, “With a high-bandwidth brain-machine interface, I believe we can actually go along for the ride.”
Long-term goal: Implant our brains for super-efficient interpersonal communication and connection with electronic devices.
How it works: Neuralink’s system consists of a tiny chip connecting to 1,000 wires that measure one-tenth of the width of human hair. Deep inside the brain, the Neuralink hub wirelessly connects with a device behind the wearer’s ear.
Regulation: Implanting BCIs into humans may be tough in the near future, according to Kenneth Shephard, a BCI research at Columbia University. The FDA is more likely to approve medical devices that address motor difficulties like blindness or paralysis.
- But this technology has to start somewhere.
Elon Musk says that human trials can begin before the end of 2020, although he’s known for being overzealous with idealistic deadlines. No matter the timeline, he provides cautious optimism about the future collision of humans and robots.