Elon Musk reiterates the need for brain-computer interfaces in the age of AI

How do you avoid getting made obsolete by artificial intelligence in a time when resources and research are largely being funnelled toward improving that area of tech? By merging with the machines, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He’s spoken about the potential of brain interfaces, including a “neural lace,” before, but at the launch of Tesla in UAE during the World Government Summit in Dubai on Monday, Musk articulated more clearly why we might seek to deep our ties to our computing devices in the near future.

Musk’s comments recalled those made at Recode’s Code Conference last year, in which he discussed a “neural lace” that would interface directly with the brain, letting users communicate thoughts with computers with much more bandwidth and much less latency than is currently possible via input mechanisms like keyboard and mouse. The need for this, he said on Monday in Dubai, could “achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence, and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem,” reports CNBC.

AI’s potential for disruption lies not only in its ability to perform specific tasks more efficiently than its human creators, but also in how fast it can communicate with other networked devices – the speed advantage gives computers almost a trillion-fold speed edge when it comes to relaying their thoughts to other computer systems, vs. the pace at which people can convey and retrieve information via things like typed text or even voice queries.

Musk also said that leaving aside the potential of general AI to impact human society, more immediate disruption from things like autonomous driving will have tremendous effects. Musk said that driving might constitute “the single largest employer of people” taken as a broad category, which means figuring out what kind of work those people can do once self-driving systems are widespread is an immediate priority.

Neural computer interfaces might be one potential solution, since the human brain is still easily more powerful than the most advanced computer system. Breaking down the throughput barriers that stand in the way of that computer interacting with the technical variant could indeed help stave off human redundancy – and interestingly enough, Musk has repeatedly suggested he himself is working on neural lace technology to make this happen.