Entrepreneur Elon Musk late on Friday demonstrated progress made by his Neuralink start-up in meshing brains with computers, saying the work is essential to the future of humanity.
Musk has long contended that a neural lace merging minds with machines is vital if people are going to avoid being so outpaced by artificial intelligence that, under the best of circumstances, humans would be akin to “house cats.”
“It’s gonna be important from an existential threat standpoint,” Musk said of the project. “That is what I think might be the most important thing that a device like this achieves.”
Members of the team shared a “wish list” that ranged from the technology returning mobility to the paralyzed and sight to the blind, to enabling telepathy and the uploading of memories for later reference — or perhaps to be downloaded into replacement bodies.
“Yes, I think in the future you will be able to save and replay memories,” Musk said.
“This is obviously sounding increasingly like a Black Mirror episode, but I guess they are pretty good at predicting,” he quipped, referring to a Netflix series that puts disturbing twists on near-future technology.
For now, Neuralink is being tested in pigs with the team working on the potential for clinical trials.
A trio of pigs in pens took part in the demonstration: one of them named Gertrude was said to have been implanted with a Neuralink device wired to detect spikes in nerve activity in her snout.
Gertrude happily focused on food, mostly ignoring Musk and others gathered for the event.
Musk said that since the first version of Neuralink was revealed a little more than a year ago, the device has been simplified and reduced to about the size of a large coin and the thickness of the skull.
With the help of a surgical robot, a piece of the skull is replaced with a Neuralink disk, and its wispy wires are strategically inserted into the brain, the demonstration showed.
The disk registers nerve activity, relaying the information via common Bluetooth wireless signal to a device, such as a smartphone, Musk said.
“It actually fits quite nicely in your skull. It could be under your hair and you wouldn’t know,” he said.
The purpose of the event was to attract engineering talent to the project, which has much work still to do on chips, software, robotics and more, Musk said.
Experts and academics remain cautious about his vision of symbiotically merging minds with super-powered computing.
Brain-computer interfaces have been done many times, and it is difficult to tell how successful the Neuralink project would be, University of Warwick biomedical engineering professor Christopher James said.
While technology has improved for reading information coming out of brains, it is not up to snuff when it comes to sending it back to all the necessary parts simultaneously, researchers have said.
Moving arms or legs involves the brain sending them the proper signals, while hearing and seeing involve the brain receiving sensory information.
“What would impress me?” James asked prior to the Neuralink demonstration.
“Real-time control of complex actions/movements — repeatedly and with little error (oh, and being able to move something whilst doing something else like talking or whistling or whatever!),” he wrote.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of