Tech billionaires are betting on artificial intelligence to help them survive TEOTWAWKI.
What if your body couldn’t survive TEOTWAWKI, but your mind could? This may sound like the plot of a science fiction movie, but it’s closer to becoming reality than you may think.
This past Tuesday, Elon Musk announced his intention to use his company Neuralink to usher humans into a future in which they can merge with artificial intelligence so their lives can transcend their human bodies. This opens up the possibility of surviving a catastrophic event, even when the rest of humanity couldn’t. When you consider the number of potentially humanity-ending events we are facing, such as nuclear annihilation, disease warfare, climate change, or even our planet’s potential collision with a comet, it is very exciting to know that this possible solution is on the table, even if it is still far into the future.
Merge with AI or Die
Musk assured an interviewer, “This is not a mandatory thing, this is something you can choose to have if you want.” Maybe so, if you’re a billionaire, but for the rest of humanity, this is a solution that will be far out of financial reach. In a hypothetical future in which this option is available to the everyman, Musk has not speculated what might happen to those who refuse, or whether or not anyone will be willing to take that risk in the first place.
It is safe to assume that Musk, who is willing to risk travel to Mars, would also be willing to risk being uploaded to the cloud. However, would anyone else? So far at least one other tech billionaire has signed-on for this futuristic experiment, and he’s put his money where his mouth is.
Sam Altman, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, is on the waiting list for Nectome’s brain-storage service. Nectome was founded by artificial intelligence researchers from MIT, and they are pioneers in aldehyde-stabilised cryopreservation technology. Altman paid over $10K to ensure that someday, when the technology has been perfected, the contents of his brain will be preserved forever on a computer.
That is a lot of money to bet on a computer’s ability to do anything at all forever when most of us have lost our entire contacts list off even the most high-end phones at least once. Along with this technology, computers that will survive the apocalypse and can run eve without the power grid will also need to be developed.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink isn’t quite there yet, but they’re off to a strong start. The company started in 2017, and since then it’s been shrouded in a veil of secrecy until their official launch party last week. Neuralink has been conducting trials on primates in California, and they will begin human trials next year. The initial trials will be focused on treating brain injuries and diseases using a chip that is implanted directly into the brain. At this time, Neuralink has not yet received FDA approval for this implant.
How the Implant Works
This device is a collection of micro-thin wires that will be inserted into the brain via incredibly sensitive electrodes that are able to be connected to individual neurons. To give you an idea of how many individual neurons that is, each of these chips will contain 1,024 of these wires. At this time, researchers plan to begin by implanting four of these chips into human test subjects. Later on, they believe they can implant as many as 10 of these chips into a human brain. That’s 10,240 micro-wires. There are 100 billion neurons in the human brain, so those wires have a lot of work ahead of them.
For brain disease and injury patients, these chips will be able to help them regain control of their brain’s functions via a pod that is worn behind their ear, which will control software that utilizes the data that is received by the chips.
The research Neuralink and other companies are conducting in this area potentially has tremendous benefits for mankind in the immediate future, which is hopefully long before we’d need the technology to continue as a species. Or at least as a new version of the species we are now.
In the foreseeable future, Musk’s Neuralink will give us the power to overcome Alzheimer’s, dementia, paralysis, and myriad other disorders. The possibility of being able to upload our own consciousness to live on beyond these conditions and even beyond the limits of our own mortality is incredibly exciting. Musk’s “full brain interface” will completely change the way we live and die, and it will put survival back on the table in otherwise hopeless situations.
Hear what Elon Musk has to say about the future of artificial intelligence.
Elon Musk makes predictions about the use of cyborgs in the future.