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Our puny human brains are becoming obsolete—at least according to Tesla and SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk. At the World Government Summit in Dubai, Musk explained that as the world turns increasingly digital and artificial intelligence proliferates, the speed that our brains operate and communicate at will become a hindrance.
Unless we find some way to merge with the machine world.
In other words: In order for humanity to survive, we’ll have to become cyborgs.
Computers can send and receive roughly a trillion bits per second, Musk explained, while humans typing on smartphones communicate at more like 10 bits per second.
To bridge that divide, Musk said, “I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.” This would be accomplished through a “high bandwidth interface to the brain” that would help us access information more quickly, and utilize artificial intelligence algorithms so we can think faster and more efficiently. Without this, humans could become irrelevant in the face of what Musk calls “deep AI.”
We can’t help but think of Star Trek Voyager‘s Seven of Nine, a character with cybernetic implants, in Musk’s vision of the future.
In a more immediate note, Musk also talked about how AI, particularly the autonomous car AI that Tesla is working on, will be displacing jobs in the near future. In the next 20 years, people who drive for a living (12 to 15 percent of the global workforce) could find themselves unemployed. It doesn’t even sound like cybernetic implants can help these workers—unless they switch industries.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.