Elon Musk is backing a secretive brain hacking startup named Neuralink, which is researching both connected brain implants and brain-computer interfaces that could merge us with AI. It's OK to feel scared, excited and totally unsurprised by that information.
We haven't had any details from the Musk's mouth yet but sources have told the Wall Street Journal that the SpaceX and Tesla boss is backing the company. He responded to the press and seemed to confirm it, tweeting: "Long Neuralink piece coming out on @waitbutwhy in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to."
Couple that with hints at events and on Twitter that he is involved with a "neural lace" announcement and he predicts a "closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence" and it looks like it's game on for this particular pet project. This isn't just brain reading tech, it's brain changing tech.
So why would Musk - or anyone - want to connect the brain to AI? Aside from the just-because-we-can answer, the most immediate uses will be in health tech until it becomes a safe and affordable practice to stick stuff in our skulls. So, patients with Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases could be the pioneers of this type of procedure in which electrical signals are released by a chip in order to have an impact on the body.
Companies like Thync are already selling neurostimulation devices like the Thync Relax Pro aimed at reducing stress and Open Water is working on wearable MRI brain scanners. But implants, and whatever comes next, would takes things a step further. Now, who wants to bet which will come first - brain-AI interfaces or humans on Mars?