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Elon Musk cautions about emergence of artificial general intelligence as Neuralink looks for FDA approval

"If I look at the pace at which artificial intelligence is improving, versus the pace of which Neuralink is progressing, artificial intelligence is moving much faster than the Neuralink is moving," Musk said.

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In an epic Twitter Spaces Q&A on Sunday night, Twitter CEO Elon Musk made good on his promise to transparency on the platform by opening himself up to questions from Twitter users about everything from content moderation to his Neuralink device.

Neuralink, an AI-human interface that removes both body and computer from a human's ability to interface with the online data stream and the internet of things through a quarter-sized port in the human skull, is controversial to say the least.



"You mentioned the biological neural net and the digital neural net. When is Neuralink to be ready to copy our consciousness into a complete—?" User Kim Dotcom asked.

"Where can I sign up for it? Because I would love to have my brain augmented, you know, it's like cyberpunk," Ian Miles Cheong added. 

"Yeah, exactly we're just going full cyber punk at this point," Musk responded from aloft above the US in his jet.

Another user jumped in and asked Musk about his plans for Neuralink, which he's said is intended specifically for medical uses, such as to help the disabled. However, once the tech is out there, it will be nearly impossible to control how it will be used.

"I'm sure you're familiar with Doctor Who, right?" That user asked. "And Cyber Men. And this idea of a centralized system by which you can influence people's thoughts. Is that not a consideration that you have on your radar? If you get what I'm coming from?"

"Well, I mean, frankly, on the Neuralink front, if I look at the pace at which artificial intelligence is improving, versus the pace of which Neuralink is progressing, artificial intelligence is moving much faster than the Neuralink is moving. Because as soon as anything gets done with humans, it gets very slow because of the danger to humans," Musk said.

"For the next few years, Neuralink is really just focused on restoring movement to people that have a broken neck or spine, and restoring vision. So it's restoring movement and vision. It's not, you know, uploading memories, or controlling thoughts or anything like that. It's pretty basic stuff. It's like the early days of computers, you know," Musk said.

"It's basically, it's life changing, though, right?" Cheong said. "I mean, being able to see if you were born blind, that is a gift that I don't think you know, anyone to pass up, that would be amazing."

"Yeah, and that's very doable," Musk said. "So what I'm saying about Neuralink is that you'll be able to see anything Neuralink is doing, you'll be able to see coming from very far off."

"Because you've got to go through the whole FDA device approval process. That takes ages. You've got to evaluate the safety in humans. And that takes a long time. So it basically is very slow, compared to the development of digital super intelligence, which is very fast," he continued.

"Now, if you think, for a long time that we ought to be more cautious in the development of digital super intelligence, because, you know, this represents a danger to the public. And just as we have other regulatory agencies that oversee dangers to the public, like the FDA, or the FAA, or, you know, any one of a number of FCC, you can't just have companies just going hog wild on developing digital super intelligence with no oversight," Musk said.

"Do you potentially see this happening in a country where there are no oversights you know, where the government is allowed, you know, scientists to do go 'hog wild,' as you said?" Cheong asked.

"Well look," Musk said, "there's the things we can control the things we can't control, and I think there should be some kind of oversight in North America and Europe, which is where a lot of the AI innovation is happening. There should be some kind of oversight."

The free-flowing conversation moved into a conversation about artificial general intelligence, and what that means for humanity, the economy, and life on Earth. Musk was invited by the hosts of the Twitter space, Mario Nawfal and Kim Dotcom, to come onto a future Space to specifically discuss AGI and its implications.

After the conversation, Musk posted that "The intelligence of this hive-mind will improve significantly as signal/noise, effective cross-linking of tweets & speed of tweets all improve," Musk said.



Twitter is a place where people from across the world and cultures can communicate in real time, through the interface of computing devices, their own human bodies, and the web. The implications for the combination of Neuralink and Twitter are somewhat staggering.

When asked about the possibility that, once approved, people will be able to use the Neuralink device to directly access Twitter, and hive mind for real, Cheong said that "The initial use cases for Neuralink are to provide paraplegics to gain mobility, to offer the blind eyesight, the deaf hearing, and so on. Being infirm or disabled isn't going to be a problem. It'll help a lot of veterans, cops, anyone with seriously debilitating injuries. And that's just the start."

"Being able to communicate directly with someone else at light speed would do wonders for communication, enable cross-language and cross-culture communications. Allow us to understand each other better."

However, it also has the potential to destroy the concept of the individual in favor of a group mind where a person doesn't know where their own thoughts end and the thoughts of others, or information from a constant data stream, begin.



"With this device," I wrote in Human Events, "human beings will be able to interact with data directly. Data will flow in two directions. Imagine a Neuralink interface between brain and mapping software like Google Maps, or between brain and a device like Siri or Alexa, or billions of Neuralinked individuals linked in the Metaverse. Where does thought end and data begin? Will there be any way for human beings to understand the difference between their own thoughts and the data that is fed into those thoughts?

"The human mind is infinite in possibility, while data, despite appearances, has its limits. Additionally, data is often created for a purpose. Advertising, for example, or propaganda from politicians and leaders. Imagine an anti-misinformation or disinformation initiative such as the kind we recently saw with Covid, Ukraine, climate change, or take your pick of popular propagandas, but instead of humans being able to look at all the data provided, take that data, think about it, and then express a thought, the data is already part of the mind, indistinguishable from thought."



It was reported via the Twitter account that tracks Musk's private jet that he was in DC for only a few hours before heading out again.

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