One of Elon Musk’s stealthier endeavors is set to become a lot less stealthy tonight, with a presentation set for 8 PM PT (11 PM ET) streaming live from its website in which we’ll learn a lot more about Neuralink, the company Musk founded in 2017 to work on brain control interfaces (BCIs) and essentially part of his larger strategy to help mitigate the risks of AI and enhance its potential benefits.
Here’s what we do know about Neuralink already: It’s initial goal, at least as of two years ago, was to figure out how brain interfaces could be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of chronic medical conditions, including epilepsy. This goal will involve the development of “ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers,” which is the only formal description Neuralink provides of its overall mission on its own website.
In a post on Wait Buy Why back when the company first broke cover, we got a lot more in-depth background about what problem Musk wants to solve and why. Summarized, Neuralink’s mission is very much on trend with Musk’s other ventures, in that it hopes to help humans avoid something he perceives as an existential threat in order that we may survive, thrive, and I guess come up with other potential existential threats for him to also then solve.
Ultimately, Neuralink seems to be aiming well beyond its initial exploration of medical technology, which was really just a way to potentially get testing faster with a practical application that’s easier to work with in terms of rules and regulators. Musk’s goal, per the Wait But Why explainer, is actually to eliminate the “compression” that happens when we translate our thoughts into language, and then into input via keyboard, mouse, etc. before actually transmitting it to a computer. Taking away the need to compress and then decompress the signal, in other words, will make communication between people and computers much faster, lossless, and very high bandwidth.
This has an existential angle because this is a key step, Musk believes, in ensuring that humanity can keep up with the increasingly advanced AI it’s developing. So to avoid a doomsday scenario where the robots take over, basically Musk proposes more or less mind-melding with the robots instead.
That was a lot to digest two years ago – it’s wild to think about what Neuralink may have done in the interim to work towards or modify this goal. Luckily, we won’t have to wait with much longer. That stream kicks off at 8 PM PT (11 PM ET) and will be carried live on Neuralink.com. We’ll update this post if there’s a direct stream, too.