Over the past five years, surgical cosmetic procedures have increased by 17%. These procedures are done to enhance one’s physical appearance, rather than to fix bodily defects. But two self-made millionaires are working on separate surgical projects that would potentially be able to improve our brains instead of our bodies.
It sounds like something out of a sci-fi film. Elon Musk, the man behind the newest developments in solar-powered homes and autonomous cars, has come up with something new: AI chip implantations for human minds.
Musk feels that our species will soon have to learn how to coexist with machines that use artificial intelligence, lest we — simply put — fall under their rule. Thus, Musk has started to finance a new company called Neuralink, which is working on creating substrates that are flexible, injectable by syringe, and that could function as part of an implantable electronics system in the brain.
Essentially, Neuralink’s AI implantations would be used for individuals who suffer from degenerative brain diseases or other cognitive conditions. The implants would connect their minds to computers and would allow certain functions to be restored.
Musk believes that brain interfaces could become a viable reality within the next five years. But he’s not the only one working on this type of technology.
Back in August, self-made millionaire Bryan Johnson, founder of online payment system Braintree, embarked on a similar endeavor. Johnson founded a start-up called Kernel, a neurotechnology company, back in 2016 to develop an interface geared towards neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even depression and anxiety.
The company is now developing neurotechnological hardware in chip form, designed to both read and write neural code and improve brain function. While Kernel will use this technology for those with the aforementioned diseases, Johnson thinks the technology has unlimited potential — even for those with no cognitive conditions.
In the future, Johnson feels even healthy people could be implanted with these chips, which could allow them to have near-perfect memory, communicate telepathically, or read instantaneously.
Some may be uneasy about the possibility at first, but Johnson feels it’s only a matter of time before these conversations start to happen more seriously.
“There’s a general reluctance for humans to adopt certain forms of enhancement,” says Johnson to CNBC, citing the progress of the plastic surgery movement as an example. “I think we will see the same thing happen as we gain more powerful forms of enhancements in genetics and neurological enhancement and physical augmentation.”
But whether they’re used to restore previously lost function or to possibly enhance what people already have, these implants are still in their infancy. Tech-lovers will have to keep an eye on these developments over the next few years to see how these wealthy innovators push the AI envelope.