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Could Elon Musk Change the Face of Medical Science with ‘Brain Hacking’?

‘Elon Musk’ – JD Lasica via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Elon Musk is a technological innovator.

The creator of the Tesla electric car and the lead designer of the SpaceX project – which aims to make space travel accessible to all – is at it again, this time with NeuraLink.

The concept behind the project is simple, yet slightly baffling. Musk wants to harness the power of the human brain and a computer interface simultaneously and has requested permission from US authorities for the chance to try out his tech on a human test subject.

Apparently, the team at NeuraLink have already tested the system out on a monkey, who according to Musk was able to control the computer through the power of thought alone.

The entrepreneur has spoken of his desire to create ‘superhuman cognition’, although another use case would be in the testing and possible cure of some neurological conditions. The ambition for a merging between human intelligence and AI will allow medical professionals more options in the diagnosis and treatment of various ailments and help to streamline the amount of time and suffering a patient experiences in finding out exactly what is wrong with them.

The main premise of the technology is a probe laden with more than three thousand electrodes. This can analyze one thousand neurons at any given time, allowing specialists to target specific sections of the brain which in turn makes invasive surgery a whole lot safer.

This would be where the synergy between human ‘skill’ and AI technology is at its most dramatic and exciting, and it’s a surprising development from Musk, who once claimed artificial intelligence could lead to the destruction of the human race.

Superhuman Intelligence: How Will You Use It?

Just imagine if Musk and NeuraLink are able to achieve the perfect synergy between human thought and AI capabilities.

With such power would come great responsibility, of course, but the possibilities of what the future could hold are rather exciting.

How would you use your new cognitive powers? It would certainly help in a number of ways, and one possible advantage is that we would all become mathematically proficient. We’re talking genius levels here – think the Rain Man or Alan Garner from the Hangover series.

It would be easier to maintain our concentration levels too, which is a great help when playing games reliant on mathematical prowess such as those played by the aforementioned characters, though these skills would help with any game, even bingo! We’d never have to miss a ball again! With so many bingo sites out there, including the aptly named Moon Bingo (given Musk’s intergalactic hopes for SpaceX), here’s hoping that NeuraLink comes up with the goods sooner rather than later.

Our abilities in the workplace would be greatly improved too. Suffering from a mid-afternoon productivity slump? Just plug yourself into the mainframe and let your AI ‘helper’ take over. Faced with a mind-numbing data entry task? Guess what: AI doesn’t get bored or make rudimentary mistakes.

Is it your turn to go on the coffee run? With AI convergence, you won’t have to write lists of how Steve from maintenance likes his latte, or risk getting the stink eye from Janet in accounts all week because you got her order wrong.

Okay, so these are some light-hearted examples of how we can use AI in our everyday lives, and we haven’t even touched upon how the technology could enhance our sporting, gaming and other areas.

The point is that if all goes to plan, the advancements designed by NeuraLink and similar firms will allow us humble automatons the opportunity to harness AI brilliance for our own gain. And that is tremendously exciting…

 

 

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