What the heck is

What the heck is…Neuralink

By Adam Westbrook 17 May 2017
Summary

Elon Musk's gone and done it this time.

Our weekly series What The Heck Is exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From Knob feel to Nitro coffee, we’re on a mission to explain the difficult to explain.

And this week we’ve set ourselves a challenge – trying to explain what the heck Elon Musk is up to now.

What the heck is Neuralink?

Neuralink is the name of a new business just launched by real life Iron Man, Elon Musk.

A quick reminder: he’s the guy behind the Tesla self-driving cars, the rockets that land themselves (SpaceX), and that massive underground motorway (The Boring Company).

Neuralink is the name he’s put on his latest idea, but the real interesting concept here is something called neural lace.

Ok, so what the heck is neural lace?

Elon Musk is worried about Artificial Intelligence.

He’s worried that computers are getting smarter a lot faster than humans are and that one day we might find ourselves being treated like pets by the software we’ve created.

So he’s trying to invent a way for the human brain to interface a lot faster with computers, so we don’t get left behind.

A simple example: typing this article is a relatively slow process, compared to how quickly my brain is generating the words. That’s because my fingers have to type each letter in sequence.

What if I could connect my brain directly to the document and have the words appear as soon as my brain thinks of them?

That’s the sort of thing the neural lace will do – if ol’ Musky and his band of merry scientists can figure it out.

Right… so seriously, what the heck is neural lace?!

Neural lace would be a fourth layer on the top of our brains.

Right now, our brains have three layers building up from the centre: a reptilian brain, a limbic system and a neocortex.

Elon Musk wants to invent something that would physically attach to our brain matter so our minds can connect directly to the internet.

Yes, seriously.

He says inserting this neural lace wouldn’t involve brain surgery – he thinks it could be done through our veins and arteries.

The idea is that we would be able to upload and download thoughts – actual thoughts – to and from the cloud.

The internet was set alight by with idea a month ago when Musk announced his project via the cult comic website Wait But Why.

If you want to know the full story we recommend having a read – but be warned, it’s a 38,000-word tome.

Once you get your head around the idea, it raises some fascinating and terrifying questions.

If it’s possible to upload our thoughts to a remote server, would we be able to live on forever, once our bodies have died?

Could we “live” the lives of other people simply by downloading their memories and experiencing them as our own? What will this do to our sense of self?

And what happens when we merge our collective minds into one super-artificial-intelligence? Where will we end and software begin? Will we all eventually exist as one giant hive mind in the cloud?

Elon, what will you come up with next?!

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.