If humankind wants to survive the rise of artificial intelligence, we need to embrace the machines and become a melded cyborg organism, projected Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, on Monday. Enhancing our minds is Musk’s answer to finding the meaning of life.
Musk has been a proponent of the human-A.I. mind-meld for a while: He’s floated the idea of neural lace, a hypothetical computer processing net that can be injected into your brain to enhance intelligence. He seems pretty serious about enhancing humans to survive an A.I. takeover.
In a conversation at the World Government Summit on Monday in Dubai, he brought up a human-machine merger — a surprising direction early in his talk — saying:
“When I was a kid, I was wondering, ‘What’s the meaning of life — you know, why are we here, what’s it all about?’ And I came to the conclusion that what really matters is trying to understand the right questions to ask. And the more that we can increase the scope and scale of human consciousness, the better we are able to ask these questions.”
This mindset puts the neural-net concept in a slightly different light. Instead of just focusing on anxieties about how A.I. will take over, it’s a softer sort of future, where a neural net broadens the abilities of the human mind. Musk pivoted quickly to the A.I. uprising that he thinks might be around the corner.
“Imagine that you were very confident that we were going to be visited by super intelligent aliens in let’s say ten years or 20 years at the most,” he said. “Digital super-intelligence will be like an alien,” Musk said. “Deep artificial intelligence — or what is sometimes called artificial general intelligence, where you have A.I. that is much smarter than the smartest human on Earth — I think that is a dangerous situation.”
Musk thinks it is so dangerous, that his first piece of advice to world leaders was that they pay close attention to research on artificial intelligence to make sure that scientists don’t get “carried away.” He said, “Sometimes what happens as a scientist is that you’re invested in your work and don’t necessarily realize the implications of what you’re doing. So I think it’s important for public safety for governments to keep a close eye on artificial intelligence and make sure that it does not represent a danger to the public.”
While Musk seems to think that the robot uprising is inevitable, he brought up the human-machine merger as a way for people to survive.
“I do think that there is a potential path here which is really getting into science fiction or advanced science stuff, but having some sort of merger with biological intelligence and machine intelligence.”
In the video above, Musk starts talking 27 minutes into it.Photos via Getty Images / Scott Olson, Getty Images / Jason Merritt, Flickr / Thomas Hawk