How Neurotech Will Help Us Compete with AI


In late 2016, Elon Musk announced the inception of a new company with the purpose of developing brain-computer interfaces which could greatly augment human intelligence. This was an essential step, in Musk’s view, for us to be able to keep up with the capabilities of artificial intelligence.

Echoing this view, in October 2017, Christof Koch, director of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, wrote an intriguing article for the Wall Street Journal entitled, “To Keep Up With AI, We’ll Need High-Tech Brains.” The first sentence asked, “When do we start panicking?”

Artificial Intelligence is nearing the point where it will be capable of more calculations per second than the human brain - and people are looking at neurotechnology as the best means we have to prevent our meager fleshy brains from becoming AI’s slightly less clever kid brother with a nice personality.

So how will neurotechnology achieve this for us, exactly?

Through Neurotechnology We’ll Develop New Ways to Think Cooperatively

Much of the answer revolves around the possibilities that are opened up for collaboration between people through a brain-computer interface; a concept star-trekkishly referred to as “cyberthink”. Through connected brains, the idea goes, we will have access to crowd-sourced problem solving.

This shift to collective reasoning will be evident throughout a multitude of human endeavors. As Neurogress points out, its technology has applicability to everything from medicine to art, to robotics, to transport, to entertainment, to how we simply interact and perceive the world. It is an all-encompassing shift in thought.

Not Just about Fast Math

Equating effectiveness to how quickly raw calculating can be done is a bit like buying a car purely based on its maximum speed. Humans offer a bit more than that. The possibility to network minds won’t just exponentially increase our ability to calculate but also to create, innovate and adapt.

Neurotechnology is already offering ways in which we can explore new forms of creativity, self-awareness and expression. This is part of how human minds will continue to be able to achieve insights and perspectives that algorithms can’t. As Radical Science News puts it, “Mind-machine interfaces, the decoding of the brain’s workings, and other unforeseen advances in neurotechnology will usher in a creative explosion unparalleled in all history.”

So we may have competition in raw computing power, but there is still that creative edge we have, and neurotechnology has the potential to “hulk that up”, considerably.

AI Is Not the Enemy

It’s easy to fall into the notion that AI is inherently something against which humans must compete. But AI isn’t just that pesky neighbor with the better lawnmower. It’s a technology that can actively be used in conjunction with neurotechnology to enhance performance.

For example, Neurogress is developing software for neurocontrolled devices which uses AI to better learn brain signals and react to them. Using this technology, AI algorithms are harnessed to reliably recognize signs of a person's certain intention to adjust the movement. In this manner, training times can be reduced from over a year to just a few weeks.

Neurotechnology innovation is pushing us mere humans to expand our boundaries and find new ways to learn.

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