Apr 08, 2017 08:14 AM EDT
Elon Musk's rationale in favoring a human-machine merger stems from the idea of keeping up with the ever-increasing advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). To put humans on equal footing he confirmed last week that he is working to make this a reality by putting up a biotech company, Neuralink.
By implanting, a device unto the human brain called a neural lace, an ultra-thin mesh that forms a collection of electrodes that is capable of monitoring brain function. Its main function is to create a direct interface between the brain and a myriad of gadgets, including computers and other devices.
A more promising function of the neural lace is that it could potentially be utilized for the treatment of neurological diseases and cognitive disorders. Frighteningly, it could also be potentially be used to reprogram the neural code.
Should the technology be made available and all laws made or amended to allow such progress, one question Musk has not answered yet is "who will be privileged enough to have a neural lace?" asks Dustin McKissen in his commentary written for CNBC. He adds though that in fairness to Musk, it may not be his responsibility to answer.
McKissen, founder, and CEO of PR and strategy firm McKissen + Company, whose work includes analyzing effects of politics on the U.S. business climate, also adds Musk's heart is in the right place. He further states humans will fall behind the machines, becoming second-class citizens to robot overlords.
He also said that if Republicans does not consider maternity care as an essential benefit, it follows that Musk's proposed neural link will never be covered by any insurance plan. It does not even say what type of procedure Neuralink will employ to install the neural lace. Therefore, those who can afford to have neural lace implants will have the benefit and advantage of acquiring a computer-enhanced brain. A new layer of inequality will then be the result.
As it is, there already exist a wide digital divide; some do not even have the benefit of access to basic internet. The divide contributes to chronic poverty affecting low-income and rural communities.
With neural lace, that wide gap will become even wider when only a few can afford a brain enhanced with artificial intelligence. It follows that most will have to compete with AI-enhanced peers in an already unequal world.
If Musk does not succeed, someone eventually will. Musk is not the only one who is into enhancing the human brain with electronics. Bryan Johnson, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, is building a company called Kernel, pledging $100 million of his own money to fund the operation. It aims to build "neural-tools" which would allow the brain to do things it has never done before, Wired reported.
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