We Are All Cyborgs Now (Well, Not Now/Now … But Soon … Are You In?)

I’m seeing an increasing number of articles about the merging of Artificial Intelligence with the human brain. Again, here we see what formerly would be considered just a great science fiction yarn suddenly becoming a very real thing.  As I’ve said in our classes, science fiction is an infinitely broad canvas upon which to noodle with concepts.  The result? Life imitates art … “Six Million Dollar Man”; “Robocop”; “Ghost in the Shell”; “Johnny Mnemonic”, et cetera writ real.

It boggles the mind … in this case, perhaps literally.

Elon Musk seems to be convinced that for humans to remain competitive with AI, humans would have to merge withAI.  Get up in that complex, gooey brainpan and inject some silicon goodness. To me, that logic doesn’t really … track.  Then again, I’m not a billionaire-real-life-Tony-Stark, so factor that in when considering my opinion. I suppose we’ll have to see what comes from Musk’s Neuralink… should be interesting, at the very least.

On that note, this article from China.org.cnconcurs with Musk’s stance:

Quote of Note:

“The creation of the “real” AI will mean that a human armed solely with its brain and body will not be able to compete with AI in the future. Humans will objectively lose the ability to control AI, and, as is commonly believed in the biological world, they will become less competitive and lose their intellectual primacy on earth. In order to prevent such a scenario, we will have to find synergies between human abilities and technical innovation, which will be the beginning of a merger of sorts to restore the balance of power between humans and AI. In my opinion, this option is the most feasible, since it has already been successfully launched!”

As noted elsewhere and earlier, there is an AI arms race in full sprint (in which China is a strong contestant), and it is well worth considering that the preceding quote comes from “The authorized government portal site to China”, to wit, lending some line-of-sight into their ‘official’ AI development mindset.  Clearly, Musk is not inhabiting a solitary outpost on this freaky terrain.

Although … I’m not sure that an embedded interface will prevent humans from losing “… the ability to control AI …”.  Do they truly have control in the first place?  What does “control” look like and what is required to achieve & maintain it? Also, are there firewalls protecting the human who is cerebrally cuffed to HAL?  These are things to ponder before letting nanotech get fire-hosed into one’s brain.  I read somewhere that you need your brain.  It’s important, or something … probably best not to shoot stuff into it. But that’s just me.  I wouldn’t want to be the ‘Neil Armstrong’ riding that particular rocket.   

Then there’s this tidbit from Fox News:  

Human Brains Could Be Connected to the Internet in ‘Next Few Decades,’ Scientists Predict

Quote of Note:

“A new research study suggests that human brains could be merged with technology significantly sooner than many expect, perhaps “within decades. Known as the “Human Brain/Cloud Interface” (B/CI), researchers at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing in California have suggested that nanorobots could be implanted into the human body and connect to a network in real-time … First proposed by futurist Ray Kurzweil – who has also suggested that computers will be as smart as humans within a decade – the concept of B/CI would potentially allow people to simply think of a question and be answered instantly, as opposed to looking for it in a search engine, similar to how information is received in the popular sci-fi “The Matrix” movie series.”

While there’s no overt mention of AI connecting with a human brain in this piece, the underlying principle is the same.  This tech is in lock-step with sentiments expressed in a 2004 interview with Google founders Brin & Sanders: “Search will be included in people’s brains … you’ll have the implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer.”  Probably no coincidence that that’s where Kurzweil hangs his hat these days (as Director of Engineering). 

It’s interesting to consider that a recent article calls out concerns regarding Musk’s Neuralink on the “abuse & security” fronts.  I wonder about that, as well as what having the nanotech in one’s brain will do over time – will its mere presence have an effect on adjacent tissue … and will the (perhaps unceasing) sending/receiving of transmissions ultimately be benign? 

It all sounds cool … sorta. I can certainly admire the grand perspective, the potential functionality and the overarching vision. I can also appreciate this being illustrative of extreme science fiction concepts pushing their way into reality. It’s truly fascinating to watch. 

However … it’s also very concerning.

When something of this potential magnitude shoulders its way into the world, we should sit up, take note, and think about it.  Hard. As I’ve said in my classes, over time tech gets smaller, faster and ever closer to the user.  This may be the apotheosis of that dynamic [but I doubt it – there’s always room for things to get even weirder]. 

The questions are: are you in?

If not, why not?

If so … why? 

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