Elon Musk’s controversial startup to crate a ‘Matrix’ interface to plug the human brain directly into a computer has raised over $27m, it has been revealed.
Called Neuralink, SEC filings have revealed the scale of the firm for the first time.
It has raised the $26.96 million of a technically still-open funding round that could grow to $100 million – although Musk took to Twitter to say the firm is no longer raising cash.
Neuralink is working to link the human brain with a machine interface by creating micron-sized devices.
He said creating a brain-machine interface will be vital to help humans compete with the ‘godlike’ robots of the future.
Neuralink was registered in California as a ‘medical research’ company last July, and he plans on funding the company mostly by himself.
It will work on what Musk calls the ‘neural lace’ technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts.
‘If I were to communicate a concept to you, you would essentially engage in consensual telepathy,’ Musk told Wait But Why.
Neuralink is aiming to launch a product that will help people who suffer from serious brain injuries as a result of disorders such as stroke and cancer in just four years, Musk said.
And in eight to ten years, the Matrix-style technology will be available to everyone, he added.
‘There are a bunch of concepts in your head that then your brain has to try to compress into this incredibly low data rate called speech or typing,’ Musk said.
‘If you have two brain interfaces, you could actually do an uncompressed direct conceptual communication with another person.’
He said the time before the devices are released depend on regulatory approval and how well the devices work on people with disabilities.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will create computers so sophisticated and godlike that humans will need to implant ‘neural laces’ in their brains to keep up, Musk said in a tech conference last year.
In June, Musk said Neuralink is a priority after much more demanding commitments to his automotive and rocket companies.
‘Boring Co. is maybe 2 percent of my time; Neuralink is 3 percent to 5 percent of my time; OpenAI is going to be a couple of percent; and then 90-plus percent is divided between SpaceX and Tesla,’ said Musk at the electric-car maker’s annual shareholder meeting.
But in a recent interview with Y Combinator, Musk explained that the ‘best outcome’ between humankind and machines would be a collective lifestyle where ‘we are the AI.’
Such a scenario would stamp out the possibility of an ‘evil dictator AI,’ Musk said, allowing anyone who wants to take part to become an ‘AI-human symbiote.’
Musk likened the situation to the cooperation of the limbic system and the cortex in the human brain.
In the interview, he explained that these two systems – the primitive brain that controls your instincts, and the ‘thinking part,’ respectively – work well together, and it would extremely unusual to find someone who wished to get rid of one of them.
Building off of this, he told Y Combinator, ‘I think if we can effectively merge with AI, like improving the neural link between the cortex and your digital extension of yourself, which already exists but just has a bandwidth issue, then effectively, you become an AI-human symbiote.’
This would also solve the ‘control problem,’ he went on to explain, as it could become so widespread that ‘anyone who wants it can have it.’
‘We don’t have to worry about some evil dictator AI,’ Musk told Y Combinator, ‘because we are the AI collectively.
‘That seems like the best outcome I can think of.’
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