Machine-meshed super-humans remain stuff of fantasy

      Published on Monday, 22 July , 2019      317 Views     
Machine-meshed super-humans remain stuff of fantasy

  • Government

A bold vision by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk to mesh human brains with artificial intelligence remains more science fiction than reality.

Even as Musk claimed his Neuralink startup had enabled a monkey to control a computer with its brain, experts were quick to dampen expectations for a futuristic scenario from “The Matrix” films, based on people with cybernetic implants.





Musk this week revealed his Neuralink startup is making progress on its brain-computer interface effort, and said the company hopes to begin testing on people next year.

Musk, founder of the automaker Tesla and the private space firm SpaceX, has long contended that a neural lace meshing minds with machines is vital if humans are to avoid being outpaced by artificial intelligence.

“This has a very good purpose, which is to cure important diseases and ultimately to help secure humanity’s future as a civilization relative to AI,” Musk said.

He disclosed that a Neuralink implant was successfully tested in a monkey in a California university lab.

“A monkey has been able to control a computer with his brain, just FYI,” Musk said, surprising the Neuralink president during a question-and-answer session.

Experts remained cautious about his vision of merging minds with super-powered computing.

Musk’s description “is really an aspirational vision for something very far down the line,” said University of Southern California assistant professor of biology sciences Andrew Hires.

“It is unclear if we will ever get to that stage.”

Neuralink unveiled a tiny sensor with hair-thin strands that could be implanted in a brain through a small incision by a robot built for the high-precision task.

“Ultimately, we can do a full brain-machine interface,” Musk said.

“Achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

For now, the goal is to let a person with the implants control a smartphone with thought, but the technology could eventually extend to other devices such as robotic arms, he said.

An early focus is using the technology to address brain diseases and paralysis, but the longer aim is to make implants so safe, reliable and easy that they could be options for people seeking to enhance their brains with computing power, according to the Neuralink team.

“It is not like Neuralink will suddenly have this incredible neural lace and it will start taking over people’s brains,” Musk quipped.

“It will take a long time, and you will see it coming.”

Musk said the goal was to make adding the brain-enhancing implants as easy a procedure as laser eye surgery.

Mystery of the mind

David Schneider, a professor at the center for neural science at New York University, was among those who saw barriers.

A major limitation is that an array of regions of the brain are engaged for handling tasks, while implants target one part at a time.

“A the end of the day, everything we do, regardless of how simple it might seem, is a distributed brain function,” Schneider said.

While technology has improved for reading information coming out of brains, it isn’t up to snuff when it comes to sending it back to all the necessary parts simultaneously, according to researchers.

“They were humble enough to admit their main targets were motor areas,” Ramana Vinjamuri, an engineering professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, said of Neuralink.

“I was happy they stopped there instead of claiming we are going to read your minds, your thoughts, your memories — if they had done that I would have been laughing out loud.”

Brain defenses

Another challenge is that a brain implant triggers the body’s defenses, which treat it as alien material to be rejected.

“Say Neuralink puts it in a person tomorrow, will the interface hold up after one year and still keep giving the same signals it did day one?” Vinjamuri said.

And regulatory approval would typically require long-term testing in animals.

Neuralink could seek an “investigational device” exemption to try implants in a few patients impaired by spinal cord injuries or strokes.

“I don’t know that I want to meld my brain with AI, nor do I think do many of us,” said Schneider.

His hope is that Neuralink innovations could restore sight, or cure paralysis.

For now, Musk is bringing energy and private investment to a brain implant area that researchers have been working on for decades with government funding.



“We need fantastical thinkers, but we also need capital and the bravery to invest lots of capital in refining these technologies,” Hires said.


Keywords:
Category Government, Technology | 2019/07/22 latest update at 7:39 PM
Source : The Peninsula | Photocredit : Google
318 Views
Comments Add comment



Gulf Media

Related Articles

The editorial staff of Qatar Today would like to give all of its readers from Gulf and Qatar and the whole world the opportunity to participate actively in the development of the website! If you have something interesting, fun, scandalous - just something worth to be seen from more people. Capture it and share it in the Qatar Today with a short text.

Do you have information you want to reach our readers?

Send article/s

You can subscribe to our Facebook, Twitter and Google pages or use our RSS feed channel to always read the most important news about Qatar, the Gulf and the world.


Saudi king invites Qatar emir to Riyadh summit: Doha Emir

Saudi king invites Qatar emir to Riyadh summit: Doha

Saudi King Salman has invited Qatar’s emir to a meeting next week of the Gulf regional bloc in…

Only international actions can settle the world’s ‘enormous and diverse cross-border challenges’, Qatar tells UN Assembly Emir

Only international actions can settle the world’s ‘enormous and diverse cross-border challenges’, Qatar tells UN Assembly

Pointing to “the strategic importance of the Gulf region”, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani Amir maintained that its stability warrants…

Amir congratulates President of Colombia Emir

Amir congratulates President of Colombia

Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Deputy Amir H H Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al…

Iran’s Rouhani Says Boosting Ties With Qatar A Priority Emir

Iran’s Rouhani Says Boosting Ties With Qatar A Priority

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described enhancement of relations with neighbors, Qatar in particular, as an indispensable part of…

GULF TV

Popular in GULF TV

About DFI – Doha Film Institute Video

39832 Views

Doha Film Institute is dedicated to film appreciation, education, and building a dynamic film industry in Qatar that…

Latest videos in GULF TV

Events

Qatar Events

Lifestyle

Life

Culture

Culture News

Sport

Sport

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Government

Government News