Not content with powering the driverless car revolution at Tesla, developing a vacuum tube high speed transit system and firing rockets into space with SpaceX, visionary billionaire Elon Musk has set his sights on another sci-fi challenge – how to meld the minds of humans with advanced computers.
Neuralink aims to marry putative developments in AI with our own brains in order to create a symbiotic consciousness formed from a fusion of software and biology. The idea is that, for people willing to have computers surgically implanted into their head, it could help gain improved memory, enhanced intelligence and the ability to control devices by the power of thought.
Musk is predictably optimistic about the prospects of his venture, however far-fetched it may seem, telling an audience in Dubai recently: “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence… it's mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output."
This confidence is borne out of present day medical procedures, including the insertion of electrode arrays to the skulls of Parkinson’s sufferers to alleviate their symptoms – although it goes without saying that such surgery is dangerous in the extreme.
Despite such progress, our understanding of how the brain works remains rudimentary at best, with only a very limited understanding of how neurons help the brain transmit messages.
Musk's most recent acquisition saw him lay down $2bn on the acquisition of photovoltaic panel business SolarCity.