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a start-up which aims to develop technology that connects our brains to computers.
A report from the Wall Street Journal, later confirmed in a tweet by Mr Musk, said the company was in its very early stages and registered as a “medical research” firm.
The company will develop so-called “neural lace” technology which would implant tiny electrodes into the brain. The technique could be used to improve memory or give humans added artificial intelligence. According to the Journal, leading academics in the field have been signed up to work at the company which is being funded privately by Mr Musk. Specialists in the field envision a time when humans may be able to upload and download thoughts.
Consider eating a chocolate cake. While eating, we feed data to our cognitive apparatus. These data provide the enjoyment of the cake. The enjoyment isn’t in the cake, per se, but in our neural experience of it. Decoupling our sensory desire (the experience of cake) from the underlying survival purpose (nutrition) will soon be within our reach.
We know that stimulating the right centers in the brain can induce sleep or alertness, hunger or satiation, ease or stimulation, as quick as the flip of a switch. Or, if you’re running code, on a schedule. (Siri: Put me to sleep until 7:30, high priority interruptions only. And let’s get hungry for lunch around noon. Turn down the sugar cravings, though.)
Pharmaceuticals enter the brain and then spread out randomly, hitting whatever receptor they work on all across your brain. Neural interfaces, by contrast, can stimulate just one area at a time, can be tuned in real-time, and can carry information out about what’s happening.
Depression, anxiety, OCD, and other disorders may be easy to eradicate once we can take better control of what goes on in our brain
You could also dim or shut off parts of a sense, like pain perhaps. Pain is the body’s way of telling us we need to address something, but in the future, we’ll elect to get that information in much less unpleasant formats.
Level 1: I want to know a fact. I call on the cloud for that info—like googling something with my brain—and the answer, in text, appears in my mind’s eye. Basically what I do now except it all happens in my head.
Level 2: I want to know a fact. I call on the cloud for that info, and then a second later I just know it. No reading was involved—it was more like the way I’d recall something from memory.
Level 3: I just know the fact I want to know the second I want it. I don’t even know if it came from the cloud or if it was stored in my brain. I can essentially treat the whole cloud like my brain. I don’t know all the info—my brain could never fit it all—but any time I want to know something it downloads into my consciousness so seamlessly and quickly that it’s as if it were there all along.
Level 4: Beyond just knowing facts, I can deeply understand anything I want to, in a complex way. We discussed the example of Moby Dick. Could I download Moby Dick from the cloud into my memory and then suddenly have it be the same as if I had read the whole book? Where I’d have thoughts and opinions and I could cite passages and have discussions about the themes?