The Current

Elon Musk wants to merge human brain with artificial intelligence

Inventor Elon Musk says artificial intelligence could soon outsmart us all. His philosophy: if we can't beat them, we should join them. His latest venture involves implanting AI computers directly into our brains.
Inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk's latest venture connects computers directly to human brains to boost human cognitive competitiveness with artificial intelligence and treat diseases that affect the brain. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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Elon Musk, inventor and entrepreneur behind such futuristic endeavours as Tesla, SpaceX and Hyperloop, has a new venture on the horizon that involves implanting artificial intelligence to the human brain.

The latest passion project is inspired by Musk's philosophy that if AI machines could soon outsmart us, humans better join them.

Science journalist and futurist George Dvorsky, who's been covering this story for Gizmodo, says while the details on Neuralink are vague, Musk's intention is to create a big impact on the future capabilities of the human brain.

"He wants to save the world, apparently," he tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Dvorsky explains it's quite conceivable the chip implanted with AI in a human brain could be used in a therapeutic way.

"These same technologies can be used to treat say, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's or even seizures for example and I think that's a good pathway into this particular area."

He adds the same technologies are already modifying other aspects of cognition, such as memory and intelligence even.
Elon Musk's suggestion that artificial intelligence will render humans obsolete is preposterous, says neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

"For example transmitting thoughts to and from a computer …  just thinking about it, you could transmit your memories and your thoughts to a computer."

Brain-to-machine interaction may be Musk's latest passion project but Miguel Nicolelis has been doing pioneering work in that field for decades.

He's a professor of neuroscience at Duke University and also runs a lab in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Nicolelis tells Tremonti that connecting brains to computers is not new, but Musk's Neuralink project is far removed from reality.

"Basically we cannot download our thoughts, or upload in all the works of Einstein in our brains and suddenly become theoretical physicists that can win a Nobel Prize. This doesn't exist and probably will never exist,"  Nicolelis says.

Nicolelis argues the possibility of artificial intelligence taking over the human condition is preposterous.

"We don't work based on digital logic and we simply cannot be threatened by machines that never ever will acquire the notion of what is to generate knowledge or to process information the way we do."

"So these are all scenarios that sound beyond science fiction."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this post — including the ethical quandaries this technology presents.

This segment was produced by The Current's Steph Kampf, Sam Colbert and Ashley Mak.