The symbiotic relationship between human and machine is not a new concept. Humans have relied on tools to help us enhance our intelligence for centuries. However, these tools have been things such as the ancient calculator, the abacus, or modern calculators that perform complex equations at astonishing speed.
The fusion of technology and humans has never been more evident than it is today. People are so reliant on smartphones and other devices that they’re almost analogous to cyborgs. After the invention of wearable devices such as Google Glass, it seems obvious that the next step forward would be to implant computing devices directly inside the brain. In fact, this technology is already being developed.
Scientists have already developed devices that can interface with the brain for medical purposes. Brain implants have helped treat Parkinson’s-related tremors and they’ve helped paralyzed people move again. Researchers are currently working on brain implants that increase memory and other cognitive abilities.
The Singularity — Should you be afraid?
Science and technology leaders such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk warn about the dangers of “super-intelligent” machines. If predictions are correct, computers will not only be able to think like humans, but they’ll be so much smarter than us that we will be, as Elon Musk describes it, like house pets compared to them. Does this mean the machines will eventually take control? Some people think it depends on what precautions we take now.
The term “singularity,” which has become a buzzword in computer science lately, has been popularized by Ray Kurzweil, a prominent scientist and futurist. He predicts that computers will become smarter than humans by 2029. Some people see this as a doomsday prediction, while tech companies, such as Singularity NET, Google and IBM are racing to achieve it.
According to Kurzweil, the singularity will occur due to an “intelligence explosion” caused by a computer that is able to repeatedly upgrade itself. This recursive self-improvement would lead to a “super-intelligence” so advanced that humans can’t predict what it would be capable of or what it will do.
So the question is: would this be good news or bad news? Some people, including Kurzweil and Musk, believe the solution is to improve human intelligence (HI) in order to keep pace with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Various efforts are underway to accomplish this, including the development of brain implants and smart drugs called nootropics that enhance brain ability.
Memory Prosthesis Project
Kernel, a company launched in 2016, is developing a brain implant to aid people who have memory disorders. Bryan Johnson, the company’s founder, states that his goal is to enhance human intelligence the same way artificial intelligence has been advancing.
Johnson intends to develop the first brain implants to help people suffering from memory problems due to injury or aging. Consequently, memory-impaired people could potentially become the first super-intelligent humans. The next step would be implants for healthy people that enhance brain functions beyond memory. Johnson envisions a future where it’s normal for people to have chips in their brains that boost their intelligence as they go about their daily activities.
Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has announced a new company called Neuralink. Musk believes that one way to prevent the threat posed by ultra-intelligent machines is to improve human intelligence via a brain enhancing device. His idea is to create a “neural lace” machine interface that will increase human intelligence. Musk is hoping to create viable brain implants within eight to ten years.
What would it be like to have augmented intelligence? Imagine never forgetting a phone number, face or name. If someone needed medical help, you could instantly download and learn the procedure to save that person’s life. Would this future mean the end of humanity as we know it, or would it bring people closer together and allow us to solve the problems that plague the world today?
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