Bioethics News

Unless we act quickly, humans will be house pets to robots, says Elon Musk

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Elon Musk, billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the boss of boss of Tesla and SpaceX, fears that Artificial Intelligence is advancing so fast that humans may end  up being house pets for robots.

He told a code conference at San Francisco that we are effectively already cyborgs; what is needed is an upgrade of our intelligence which he calls a “neural lace” injected into the brain. This would allow people to access the internet immediately and vastly improve human cognition. “Somebody’s gotta do it, I’m not saying I will. If somebody doesn’t do it then I think I should probably do it,” he told the conference.

This is not as crazy as it sounds. In a recent issue of Nature Neurotechnology researchers claim that they have injected neural lace into the brains of mice without ill effects. The wire and plastic mesh is so fine that it integrates into brain tissue and “eavesdrops” on neural chatter. It could become a way of communicating with the brain to help the disabled or to enhance performance. “We have to walk before we can run, but we think we can really revolutionize our ability to interface with the brain,” says a co-author, Charles Lieber, a nanotechnologist at Harvard University.  

The novel idea of neural lace is that it can be injected into the bloodstream and does not require complicated surgery.

However, another of Musk’s ideas does sound a bit crazy. He also mused at the code conference that our world is a computer simulation of our descendants far in the future.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.