Elon Musk on Mission to Link Human Brains With Computers in Four Years: Report

Elon Musk on Mission to Link Human Brains With Computers in Four Years: Report

Published By: MSN/Reuters, 4/22/2017

>> View the Article <<


Neuralink Corporation hopes to develop a micron-sized device that could connect the human brain and a machine interface. The initial goal is to help those with severe brain injuries, then to explore use by people without disabilities. For example, if each person had a device, then two people could (theoretically) communicate concepts brain-to-brain. The long-term goal is to integrate human brains and artificial intelligence (AI), so humans will not be left behind (see Alternative Article below).

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 11.5

Content Advisory

The linked articles are usable in any classroom, but all refer or link to a post on the Wait But Why blog (which broke the story) that contains taboo language and refers to sex and pornography.

Extended Discussion Questions

  • If you had a brain injury, would you want a device like this implanted into your brain? Why or why not?
    • What questions or concerns might you have?
  • Elon Musk suggests that widespread use of these devices would enable a type of communication equivalent to telepathy.
    • What could be some benefits if this turns out to be possible?
    • What could be some potential dangers or drawbacks?
  • If human and machine intelligences  could merge, what ethical or moral concerns might arise?
    • What if this gave certain people superhuman capabilities?
    • Who do you think would have access to this technology first, and what advantages might that give them?
  • Musk is quoted as saying that “humans will need to implant ‘neural laces’ in their brains to keep up” with the sophistication of AI.
    • Do you agree with Musk’s assessment of how smart AI will get? Why or why not?
    • If so, do you think wiring up our brains is a necessary or effective response? Why or why not?

Alternative Article

“A Quick Guide to Elon Musk’s New Brain-Implant Company, Neuralink”
Published By: Los Angeles Times, 4/21/2017 || View the Article
Relates the story to Musk’s long-term goal of ensuring that AI is beneficial to humanity (but covers even less of the technical detail).

Supplemental Article

“With Neuralink, Elon Musk Promises Human-to-Human Telepathy. Don’t Believe It.”
Published By: MIT Technology Review, 4/22/2017 || View the Article
Explicitly sets out to counter some of the Neuralink hype.

Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.1.1 Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition.
  • LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.
  • LO 7.4.1 Explain the connections between computing and real-world contexts, including economic, social, and cultural contexts.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.1.1L Computing contributes to many assistive technologies that enhance human capabilities.
  • EK 7.2.1G Advances in computing as an enabling technology have generated and increased the creativity in other fields.
  • EK 7.3.1A Innovations enabled by computing raise legal and ethical concerns.
  • EK 7.3.1G Privacy and security concerns arise in the development and use of computational systems and artifacts.

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 1 Creativity
  • Idea 2 Abstraction

Banner Image:Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop“, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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