What happens as we develop toward technological singularity in Elon Musk’s mind?

If you assume any rate of advancement in AI, we will be left behind by… a lot.

[…] If you have ultra-intelligent AI, we would be so far below them in intelligence that it would be like… you know, a pet.

[…] It’s not the end of the world.

[…] I mean I don’t love the idea of being a house cat!

And this is one of the “benign” scenarios. So what’s the solution?

I think one of the solutions, the solution that seems maybe the best one, is to have an AI layer. If you think of like, you have your limbic system, your cortex, and then a third layer, a sort of digital layer above the cortex that could work well and symbiotically with you. Just as your cortex works symbiotically with your limbic system, your third digital layer could work symbiotically with the rest of you.

So, Elon thinks we should be extended – augmented with something like a neural lace. This particular idea appeals to me from two perspectives:

  1. It gives us another focus to building the future, other than continuing to develop AI: improving Brain-to-Computer Interfaces (BCIs);
  2. I am profoundly interested in contributing from this angle.

The fundamental limitation is input/output. We are already a cyborg. You have a digital partial version of yourself online, in the form of your emails, and your social media, all the things that you do. And you have basically superpowers with your computer and your phone, and the applications that are there. You have more power than the president of the United States had 20 years ago. You can answer any question, you can video-conference with anyone anywhere, you can send a message to millions of people instantly. You can just do incredible things. But the constraint is input/output. We’re I/O bound. Particularly output-bound. Your output level is so low; particularly on a phone, like with two thumbs, you’re sort of tapping away – this is ridiculously slow. Our input is much better because we have a high-bandwidth visual interface into the brain, like our eyes take in a lot of data. So there’s many orders of magnitude difference between input and output. So mostly, effectively merging in a symbiotic way with digital intelligence revolves around eliminating the I/O constraints. So some sort of direct cortical interface, a neural lace.

There are many BCIs – in fact, I’m thinking my next post should be a round-up of all the various methods people have attempted. Just this past Friday, I hooked up my Muse to my computer, and saw the raw EEG data streaming in realtime, ready for analysis.

One major factor to consider when designing BCIs is their invasiveness. With an EEG device like the Muse, you slap on something that looks like a headband, fiddle with some Bluetooth, and you’re good to go. Inconvenient, but not prohibitive.

Something like the neural lace – or any kind of implant – is more involved. However, does it need to imply surgical insertion?

Not necessarily, you could go through the veins and arteries – that provides a complete roadway to all of your neurons. Your neurons are very heavy users of energy, so they need high blood flow. So you automatically – with your veins and arteries – have a road network to your neurons.

[…] you could insert something into the jugular. It gets macabre, but… […] It doesn’t involve chopping your skull off or anything like that!

While sounding potentially frightening, a direct path through our blood vessels already exists. Can we take advantage of it? What do you think?

Here’s the full interview (yeah, I’m a pretty big fan):

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