All of the brain-machine interface work to date has really focused on clinical populations: people who have nerve pathologies, things like ALS or any number of muscular dystrophies. Our big idea was, well, wait a second, most of the work that's been done to date has been addressed to people who lack functioning motor systems. So what would happen if you actually have a functioning motor system? How would you approach the brain-machine interface problem then? That was the kind of founding animus of the company: Rather than trying to work around the motor neuron system, let's actually work with it.
Ever since Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk announced his plans to develop the Neural Lace, a Brain Machine Interface (BMI) like device that forms a thin nano-sized "lace" over a users cereberal cortex, via his Neuralink subsidiary, and Mark Zuckerberg announced he was starting development of his own BMI telepathic device, the technology has, unsurprisingly, started to get significantly more attention. Musk, however, wasn't the first to propose the possibility of enhancing human capabilities using BMI devices, not by a long shot. In his case he's trying to use them to, literally, "connect" humans with AI's, and elsewhere the US Department of Defense's cutting edge research arm DARPA also recently funded a similar mission, but in their case it wasn't just to read thoughts it was to facilitate the ability to upload knowledge directly to the human brain, and elsewhere even healthcare companies are in on the act trying to use them to help "locked in" ALS patients communicate with loved ones – and much more besides. Now, according to a collaboration of 27 experts, neuroscientists, neurotechnologists, clinicians, ethicists and machine-intelligence engineers, calling themselves the Morningside Group, BMIs present a unique and rather disturbing conundrum in the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Essentially designed to hack the brain, BMIs themselves run the risk of being hacked by AI. "Such advances [in BMI] could revolutionise the treatment of many conditions, from brain injury and paralysis to epilepsy and schizophrenia, and transform human experience for the better," wrote the experts in a recent the experts wrote in a recent Nature journal, "but the technology could also exacerbate social inequalities and offer corporations, hackers, governments or anyone else new ways to exploit and manipulate people.
Elon Musk thinks that accessing the brain directly will enable us to interact faster with AI. He is making a fundamental error. Speaking about AI at the Code Conference 2016, he said: "Constrained by input output", "If we can create a high-bandwidth neural interface with your digital self", "Access directly to cortex", "How to establish a high bandwidth neural interface" Unfortunately Elon Musk does not realise that the bottleneck is the brain's ability to integrate new information. Our sensors already have greater input capacity than our biology based brains can process, so unless we replace the CPU (the brain), we will never be superhumans.
An illustration of "wizard hats," or the term writer Tim Urban uses to describe the type of brain implants Elon Musk eventually wants to develop. An illustration of "wizard hats," or the term writer Tim Urban uses to describe the type of brain implants Elon Musk eventually wants to develop. Elon Musk teased the world last month by confirming his new venture, Neuralink, a company to create implantable brain chips. Now a lot more details have been revealed. A long post on the website Wait But Why, written by Tim Urban, lays out the background of the company, its team and its plans to develop what are known as brain-machine interfaces.