Dawn neurocomputing technologies: how far can we go?

What distinguishes Elon Musk as an entrepreneur from others is the fact that any enterprise which he assumes, is born from the bold and inspiring vision of the future of our species. Musk recently announced the creation of a new company Neuralink, which will deal with the merger of the human mind with the AI. Given the track record of mask, which is constantly trying to achieve the impossible, the world needs to pay extra attention to the words of a man who wants to connect our brains to computers.

Dawn neurocomputing technologies: how far can we go?

Neuralink registered as a medical company in California. So far, its objectives with respect to blurred in the short term and too ambitious in the long term. It will attempt to create a "neural lace" - brain-computer interface, which will be implanted directly into the human brain to its monitoring and reinforcement.

In the short term this technology will definitely find medical use and can be used to treat diseases such as paralysis or Parkinson's disease. In the next decade, it may allow us to exponentially enhance our mental abilities or digitize human consciousness. In fact, it is a step towards convergence of people and cars, and perhaps leap in human development - which will solve many of the problems that we face.

The current state of research

Musk is not the first and not the only one who wants to link the brain with machines. Another technology entrepreneur, Brian Johnson, founded Kernel startup in 2016, in a similar way to explore the possibilities of brain-computer interface, and that the scientific community has made great strides in recent years. In April, scientists from Switzerland announced that paralyzed primates learned to walk with the help of neyroproteznoy system. CNN reported that the man, paralyzed in the shoulders, restore the right hand through brain-computer interface.

there have been significant changes in both the hardware and the software brain-computer interface for the last few years. Experts are developing more sophisticated electrodes, programming the best algorithms to interpret the neural signals. Scientists have been able to provide the paralyzed patients the ability to print the power of thought, and even tied the brain with each other using brain waves. Until now, most successful applications in this area is to ensure the management of motor skills or simple communication between people with brain injuries.

Nevertheless, before the brain-computer interface is worth a lot of obstacles.

Firstly, the most powerful and accurate NCI require invasive surgery. Another problem is the introduction of robust algorithms that can interpret the complex interactions of 86 billion neurons in the brain. Much of the progress is also flowed in one direction, from the brain to the car. We have not yet developed the NCI, which can provide us with sensory information, or allow us to feel the subjective experiences of tactile sensations - touch, temperature and pain. While some progress in this direction is still there.

There is also a common problem: our understanding of the brain is in its infancy. We have a long way to go to fully understand how and where there are various functions like consciousness, perception and consciousness. To enhance or integrate with machines of these functions, we need to understand the physics that lies at their core. Design interfaces that can communicate with individual neurons and safely integrate with existing biological networks requires significant medical innovations. However, it is important to remember that technology is rapidly evolving.

The Rise of cyborgs

Hollywood often portrays a future dystopia where machines and people are fighting each other. But in fact, far more likely scenario is quite the opposite: in which humans and machines merge.

In many respects we have already cyborgs.

Futurologists like Jason Silva noted that our devices - this is essentially an abstract form of brain-computer interface. We use smartphones to store and retrieve data, the settlement and communicate with each other. According to the philosopher Andy Clark and David Chalmers, in accordance with their extended mind theory, we use technology to expand the boundaries of the human mind and go beyond our skulls. We use tools such as machine learning, to improve their cognitive skills, or telescopes, to improve the visual coverage. Technology has become part of our exoskeleton, allowing us to go beyond our limitations.

Musk said that the merger of biological and machine intelligence may be necessary if we want to stay "biologically valuable." Brain-computer interface will allow us to better take advantage of the rapidly developing artificial intelligence. With the increasing automation of jobs, it may be the best way to keep up with machines that solve problems more efficiently than us.

Technologist Ray Kurzweil says that by 2030-th year, we will connect the neocortex of the brain to the cloud using nanorobots. He notes that the neocortex - the source of all this "beauty, love, creativity, and intelligence in the world." It is noteworthy that due to its predictive accuracy Kurzweil, according to Bill Gates and many others, is the best forecaster of the world of technology. Kurzweil rights or not, will soon find out. What will be the future?

We could have a thousand times to strengthen their intelligence and imagination. This would radically change the way we think, the way we communicate and perceive the world. The transfer of thoughts and emotions directly to the other head open before us a new society and proximity. Ultimately loading ourselves in machines allow us to get out of the biological skin and become immortal in the digital sense.

The consequences of a truly profound, and many questions remain unanswered. What will be the subjective experience of human consciousness, when our brains will be digitized? How can we prevent that our brains will try to hack and re-record starting unwanted thoughts? How to provide access to brain-computer interface to all, not just the rich and powerful? There are many questions and it is time to start looking for answers.