A funny thing happened earlier this week. SpaceX founder Elon Musk went on Joe Rogan's podcast, drank a little whisky and puffed on a blunt rolled with weed and tobacco, and the Internet went bananas. Shares of Tesla, the electric vehicle company Musk co-founded and currently serves as CEO, fell afterwards. Musk smoking weed made plenty of headlines, but that wasn't the most interesting part of the podcast. What grabbed our attention was when Musk teased an imminent Neuralink announcement, along with his thoughts on fusing human brains with a "high-bandwidth" interface, effectively merging us with artificial intelligence (AI).
In fact, that's really the purpose of Neuralink, yet another company Musk founded and one that aims to develop "ultra high-bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers." The way Musk sees it, the human brain has a "bandwidth problem," and developing a high-bandwidth interface to the brain—effectively creating a symbiotic relationship between humans and AI—is the solution.
"The merge scenario is probably the best," Musk told Rogan when asked if he thought we'll one day merge with AI or be replaced by it. "If you can't beat it, join it."
It sure sounds like Musk is talking about turning us all into cyborgs, and indeed that is the general idea. Or more precisely, he wants to transform humans into more of a cyborg than they already are, because to an extent, we're already there.
"How much smarter are you with a phone or computer or without? You're vastly smarter, actually. You can answer any question pretty much instantly, any calculation, that your phone's memory is essentially perfect. You can remember flawlessly. Your phone can remember videos, pictures, everthing perfectly. Your phone is already an extension of you. You're already a cyborg," Musk said.
"Most people don't even realize, you're already a cyborg. That phone is an extension of yourself. It's just that the data rate, the communication rate between you and the cybernetic extension of yourself that is your phone and your computer is slow, it's very slow. It's like a tiny straw of information flow between your biological self and your digital self, and we need to make that tiny straw like a giant river, a huge, high-bandwidth interface," Musk continues.
Whether you agree with that assessment or not, it's fascinating stuff. And to be clear, he said all this stuff before partaking in Rogan's blunt. Musk is dead serious about this symbiotic relationship he envisions. If it comes to fruition, there will be some interesting decisions ahead of each and every person.
For example, some people may opt to retain their biological self rather than install a high-tech data pipe into their brain. Others will see the benefit in merging with AI. Either way, Musk doesn't anticipate this being just a decision for the wealthy, because anyone who has the procedure done will be better equipped to amass wealth. There's a flaw in that argument—maybe several—but whatever, this is the choice you'll have to make in the future, if Musk is right.
How far off are we talking about? Will any of us even be alive when this happens, if it ever does? Which, by the way, if the biological part of you dies after having the procedure done, "you can upload into a new unit. Literally," Musk says. Well, mere mortals, the decision may come sooner rather than later.
"I think we'll have something interesting to announce in a few months, that's at least an order of magnitude better than anything else. Probably better than anyone thinks is possible," Musk said.
Thumbnail/Top Image Source: YouTube via PowerfulJRE