Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WSJ: Tesla CEO Elon Musk To Connect Brains To Computers

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that billionaire Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of Tesla, Inc., and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has started a new company called "Neuralink Corp."

This new company will "implant tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts."

First, the procedure will be used to fight diseases, then, according to the WSJ, will be expanded...

Preposterous, right?

Elon Musk, in addition to founding Tesla and SpaceX, is also the co-founder of Paypal.

The Wall Street Journal says Mr. Musk "has proven many naysayers wrong."

"Traditional automakers said he could never sell a popular electric car," WSJ says, "Military gray-industrial graybeards scoffed at the idea he could even launch a rocket."

Both have happened successfully.

Musk has already hired leading academics in the field, that include an engineer and expert in flexible electrodes, a UC professor who is an expert on how the brain controls movement and a professor from Boston U who is known for implanting tiny electrodes in the brains of finches to study how birds sing.

Neuralink will, according to these leading scientists, first develop advanced implants to treat intractable brain disorders like epilepsy or major depression, a market worth billions of dollars. These implants would build on simpler electrodes already used to treat brain disorders like Parkinson's disease.

If Neuralink can prove the safety and efficacy of technology it develops and receive government approval, they plan to move on to cosmetic brain surgeries to enhance cognitive function, because they say "humans struggle to process and generate information as quickly as they absorb it."

They say, "Your output is so low, particularly on the phone, your two thumbs just tapping away---This is ridiculously slow. Our output is much better because we have a high bandwidth visual interface into the brain. Our eyes take in a lot of data."

Others are also looking at similar ventures.

Bryan Johnson, founder of online payments company "Braintree," plans to put $100 million into his start-up company called "Kernal," which already has 20 experts pursuing essentially the same mission.

Facebook has posted job ads for "brain-computer interface engineers" and other neuroscientists at its new secret projects division.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is investing $60 million over 4 years to develop "implantable neural interface technology."

Johnson says he and Musk have been talking and that both companies "want to build better neural interfaces, first to attack big diseases, and then to expand human potential."

Musk says, "If you assume any rate of advancement in artificial intelligence (AI), we will be left behind by a lot," suggesting that without connecting the brain to a computer we will be unable to compete---find our place in the changing world.

The "potential" of this is, should I say it, mind boggling?

Clearly, the breakthrough moment would be the announcement that this research and development has created a cure for say epilepsy or Parkinson's.

What parent or family member would not be grateful to see their loved one cured?

However, the downloading and uploading of data into our brain for the sake of "expanding human potential" has ramifications that are both obvious and beyond understanding.

The question of ethics has already been raised. The answer these entrepreneurs are giving, generally, is first, they are doing this to "help" people, and secondly they generally quote Psychology Today, which says this:

The brain and mind are both involved in consciousness and the terms are often used interchangeably but the brain and the mind are not the same. The brain is a tangible organ in the body that controls all vital human function. Conversely, the mind permeates every cell of the human body and consults with non-human cells such as the gut bacteria, which comprise nine tenths of the cells in our bodies. More importantly, the mind ultimately has dominion over the brain.

Bottom line from psychology---don't worry about this new world of computers connected to your brain. Nothing uploaded into your brain will change your mind about anything you believe---they say.

Will this happen soon? Probably not, but the technology is there and the money is there. It won't take long.

It isn't only Musk who is pursuing this but also Apple, Google, Facebook, and others are also perfecting this technology.

Who knows what the real motives may be, beyond the money?

This subject is being discussed widely in the business and medical communities. And now is beginning to become a matter of consideration in the Christian community, as it should.

Some Christian leaders are contending that the brain and the mind are separate and that computer to brain connections are a good thing, and that has nothing to do with our mind or our soul.

Some are opposing the idea as an affront to God our Creator.

Personally, I see this procedure as a gateway to the soul. As we protect our computers from viruses that destroy the software, Scripture instructs us to protect or guard our mind.

I personally believe this will be pursued and developed---that's why I mention it here today. And I believe it is a dangerous path to destruction. I also believe it will be used far more for evil, than for good---ultimately.

We must be informed.

And: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you are flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

Be informed. Be Aware. Be Vigilant.