Elon Musk wants your brain. Not content with conquering the space industry, solar power, and the Internet, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO is now planning to improve our minds.
Musk has spoken before about this technology, called neural lace. It’s apparently an idea to implant electrodes in our brains mixed with artificial intelligence, and use this to increase our mental output. We could also access the Internet or even write and communicate just by thinking.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Musk is now pressing ahead with these plans, having set up a company called Neuralink Corp. Details are few and far between at the moment, but they did manage to glean a bit of information from people who are supposedly involved in the project.
“Max Hodak, who said he is a ‘member of the founding team,’ confirmed the company’s existence and Mr. Musk’s involvement,” said the WSJ. “He described the company as ‘embryonic” and said plans are still in flux but declined to provide additional details.”
Musk himself later confirmed the company’s existence, tweeting that an article on Neuralink would be appearing on the website Wait But Why in the next week. Musk has turned to this site before to explain his ambitions.
"I was given the lowdown about it earlier this month and have been rapid-fire learning ever since," said Tim Urban, who runs the site, in an update. "Turns out the brain is obnoxiously not simple."
In August, he also said he was “making progress” on the neural lace, with an announcement in a few months. In January, he said there might be an announcement next month (February) too. So far we’re yet to see either materialize.
Last year, at the Recode Code Conference, he gave us a bit more insight into what his plans might be. “Your output level is so low, particularly on a phone, your two thumbs sort of tapping away,” he said. “This is ridiculously slow. Our input is much better because we have a high-bandwidth visual interface to the brain, our eyes take in a lot of data.”
What’s the point of all this? Well, aside from the cool sci-fi aspect, this sort of technology could help treat things like Parkinson’s and depression. But operating on a human brain is no mean feat. You can be sure there will be plenty of debate ignited by whatever Musk has dreamed up.
We’ll have to wait and see what his ultimate plan is. But, in fairness, he’s proved a lot of people wrong with reusable rockets, electric cars, and more. Maybe he’s about to shake up another industry – or, more accurately, create an entirely new one.