Why History May Treat Elon Musk More Kindly Than We Do

Whilst the world is busy figuring out how humans will remain relevant in an AI world, this new technology called BCI has emerged which will increase productivity, re-enable the physically challenged and bring the human brain closer to its assumed potential. Obviously, there’s a paradoxical hurdle in the preceding sentence. But until such time as AI renders us all jobless or dead, this new technology is wonderful news.

And we have none other than Elon Musk to thank.

The Good News

BCIs restore motor function for those who suffer from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), strokes, injuries to the spinal cord – anything, in fact, where there has been a breakdown in communication affecting motor control. BCIs also help in the control of robotic prosthetic limbs.

But BCIs are not limited to the physically challenged. The final stages of research analysis suggests that mental focus can be enhanced, memory recall can be improved and reaction time can be quickened. And this is just the beginning. BCIs will be able to tell you when to rest and help recharge your brain. This in itself could mean a huge reset of labour productivity guidelines, focused around the individual. Higher cognitive performance will have a major bearing on the relationship between employer and employee.

Right now, at least six North American enterprises are moving forward with BCIs through implants and wearable computers. Some are following the intrusive route, with implants directly into the brain. This is perceived as the most accurate interface, but there are concerns about brain injury. The others are going with the sensory option, which has no hardware inserted into the brain.

The Players

Synchron, Neurable and Cognixion are going with sensor-based technology. Forest Neurotech and Paradromics, the implant variant.

I left one particular company till last. Elon Musk’s Neuralink.

Without Neuralink, none of the other companies would exist. Such has been the investor frenzy triggered by Elon Musk.  The advance of this technology would not have been possible without a limitless budget.

From visionary with money to incomprehensible rock star, Elon Musk’s role as both court jester and king has suited today’s society admirably. In this digital era, as in any other time in human history, it seems we need to both understand the world around us and not understand it.

So perhaps we should wait till we’re all grandparents until we pass judgement on Elon Musk’s eccentricities. And take another look when a grandchild, who would have needed lifelong care as an autistic at the bad end of the spectrum in today’s world, becomes a lecturing professor at Oxford University in tomorrow’s world.

All because of the money Elon Musk generated for research into something in which he saw great potential.

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