The Future of Human Intelligence Changed with 3072 Electrodes

Alisya Kainth
Sep 22, 2019 · 5 min read
Anatomy of the human brain for reference clearly indicating the hippocampus.

Human intelligence is limited by our psychological and physiological mechanisms. For example, we have terrible memory because even though our brain stores most of our memories in the hippocampus, it is difficult to stimulate and retrieve them. Once our memories go from our active memory (in our frontal lobe) to our passive memory in our hippocampus, on-the-spot memory recall is extremely difficult.

This comes with many disadvantages, such as forgetting 99% of what we learn overtime.

The human brain is an incredibly complicated computer which is not meant to remember small details, but to connect big ideas. This is how space exploration was possible and how quantum computing is now more than just a theory.

However, when compared to the recent developments of other computers, such as AI implementation and deep learning algorithms, our brain has not evolved at all. This is the main reason why some societies are so against the idea of AI. They believe that eventually, AI will take over the human race because of it’s rapid progression and evolution.

Although, nobody considered how we can use this rapid progression to our advantage, in particular, to advance our OWN neural networks: the human brain. Well, at least before Neuralink.

The merge between our brain and AI

Elon Musk was the first to pinpoint potential problems in the future caused by AI. He believed it was a bad idea for humanity, but this, of course, did not stop developers from continually evolving AI. Elon’s solution to this “problem” was to buy a brain computer interface (BCI) startup company called Neuralink. The main goal of Neuralink is to implement a thin, mesh-like BCI which houses 3072 electrodes (at the moment) on the surface of our brains, called Neural Lace.

Although the design is not released, Neural Lace is envisioned to look like a a thin, mesh structure, similar to another layer of the brain. Electrodes are dispersed around the mesh to measure brain activity from the entire organ.

Neural Lace is one of the most compelling integrations of AI and BCIs for a number of reasons.

We can get a better understanding of the brain

By better, I mean much better. Current technology which is responsible for reading brainwaves, such as EEGs, are non-invasive and do not penetrate into the skull to get very accurate readings. Even invasive technology, such as electrodes which measure activity from the cerebral cortex, cannot get very accurate readings because they cause inflammation after a certain amount of time. Because of this, they must be removed an inserted regularly, which accounts for a lot of time and surgery.

With the possibility of Neural Lace, however, infinite amount of readings at any given time, coupled with only one surgery, gets the medical industry very excited. Firstly, numerous amounts of treatments that we haven't even considered before can be made possible, not only for known causes, but also for idiopathic disorders, such as certain mental disorders.

Also, Neural Lace can be made a treatment in itself, for disorders such as epilepsy, which requires a shock made to the region of the brain in which seizures originate from.

This all stems from the fact that Neural Lace allows us to learn about the brain, which we have a lot of trouble attempting to do now.

Neural Lace in particular is such an interesting adaptation of AI and BCIs because depending on what we discover about the brain, this technology can deviate into a plethora of variations, or demand even more AI to be used to control it. For example, in the early stages of the building the first quantum computer, all anyone was thinking about was the hardware and the physics, not on the software that was needed to actually use the computer.

Should this be the case with Neural Lace, we can expect many opportunities for even further development in these industries.

A drastic turning point in human evolution

But how can an implementation of Neural Lace combat evolving AI? The idea is simple. If we have the technology to access wide scale information about the brain, it is not far off to assume we can also insert information within the brain. And with this idea, literally anything is possible for the future of human intelligence.

The problem of memory would cease to exist because all of our memories will be uploaded to a large database and accessed at anytime, such as the cloud. Going to school for years of study would become unheard of because we could download all the information Google has to offer and know how to use it. Texting or calling will become obsolete because we may only need to think of what to say to a person, and that person will receive the message through the internet.

Essentially, we have the potential of becoming superhuman. And in the process, we can also make sure that AI does not take over the human race because of our combined intelligence being both AI and human.

Other possible results of the implementation of Neural Lace

We may never have a war again. In their most primitive form, wars are essentially conflicts between different cultures, or even resources. With Neural Lace comes the ability to understand other people’s thought processes and perspectives. Should cultures understand the perspectives of each other, conflict will rarely arise.

Also, the advancement of the human race beyond what we would know with Neural Lace will rapidly manifest. This is because with the potential to understand everyone’s viewpoints almost instantly, the adaptation of future projects will be extremely efficient. Imagine working on the next quantum computer, but understanding the viewpoints of both the engineers and developers on your team in an instant. This would save days, maybe weeks of meetings, debriefing, and ultimately, confusion.

For medical purposes, patients can connect immediately with the perspective of their doctors and make a decision of their treatment options based on this knowledge. Summed up, knowledge distribution could never be so easy.

The drawbacks

Even though most of the outcomes of Neural Lace are positive, just like with any innovation, there are drawbacks. For example, hackers are constantly exploiting numerous computer systems today, so what is to stop them from taking control of Neural Lace, and therefore, our thoughts and knowledge?

Some believe there is a possibility that they could even take control of us.

It’s questions like these that make many scared of the implementation of Neural Lace, and chances are, of AI as well. Of course there are more problems which we couldn’t even think of right now because of how limited our knowledge of this “new” world is.

Weighing the positives and the negatives

All things considered, Neural Lace by Neuralink could possibly be the most revolutionary and era-defining technology being created right now. Depending on the different perspectives however, this could enhance, or destroy humanity as we know it, which are often understood as the same thing (ex. the controversy of social media).

However, this controversy is unlike any humanity has faced before, as seen when the image of futuristic mixed media becomes closer to us than ever.

The original article on Neural Lace, Elon Musk’s “An integrated brain-machine interface platform with thousands of channels” is linked here.

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