SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted at what could be the announcement of a brain-machine interface that could one day hook human brains up to computers on Sunday.
In response to a question asking for an update on Neuralink, a neurotechnology startup he founded in 2016, Musk replied that new information would be “coming soon”.
A “direct cortical interface,” according to Musk, could allow humans to reach higher levels of cognition – and give humans a better shot at competing with artificial intelligence, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2017. It’s unclear, though, whether Neuralink’s main objective is to do just that or to connect human brains to computers for consumer applications.
Musk has repeatedly warned of evil AI overlords in the past, saying that AI could become “an immortal dictator from which we could never escape” in a 2018 documentary called Do You Trust This Computer?
Most of what Neuralink is working on, including any plans for a brain computer interface, are still tightly under wraps. In one tantalizing clue, Bloomberg recently reported on a still unpublished academic paper by five authors who have been employed by or associated with Neuralink – though it’s unclear whether Musk’s tweet referred to their work.
The paper describes a “sewing machine” for the brain in the form of a needle-like device that is inserted into a rat’s skull to implant a bendable polymer electrode in the brain that would read the brain’s electrical signals.
Of course, human trials are still a long time out. Neuralink has yet to comment on any possible timelines or announcements.