Science

Neuralink could create ‘exotic species’ of dinosaurs, co-founder says

US technology company Neuralink could create ‘novel exotic species’ of dinosaurs in just 15 years, according to Max Hodak, one of its co-founders.

Hodak is an American entrepreneur and technologist who co-founded the contentious neurotechnology firm with Elon Musk.

The firm, known for putting a computer chip in the brain of a pig, could ‘probably build Jurassic Park’ if it wanted to, Hodak said, in reference to the 1993 blockbuster film.

Neuralink is currently working on technology that aims to allow people to hook their brains up to a computer and effectively become cyborgs. 

Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern and Sam Neill watch dinosaur eggs hatch in a scene from the film 'Jurassic Park', 1993

Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern and Sam Neill watch dinosaur eggs hatch in a scene from the film ‘Jurassic Park’, 1993 

NEURALINK: ELON MUSK’S PLAY FOR COMPUTER-BRAIN INTERFACES

Elon Musk’s latest company Neuralink is working to link the human brain with a machine interface by creating micron-sized devices.

Neuralink was registered in California as a ‘medical research’ company in July 2016, and Musk plans on funding the company mostly by himself.

It will work on what Musk calls the ‘neural lace’ technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts. 

He said ‘neural laces’ will help people with severe brain injuries in just four years. 

And in eight to ten years, the Matrix-style technology will be available to everyone, he added. 

‘We could probably build Jurassic Park if we wanted to,’ Max Hodak tweeted.

‘Wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs but [shrugging emoji]. Maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic novel species.’   

Hodak didn’t elaborate on how the firm’s own version of Jurassic Park would be built, but went on to suggest that it could help biodiversity. 

‘Biodiversity (antifragility) is definitely valuable; conservation is important and makes sense,’ he also tweeted. 

‘But why do we stop there? Why don’t we more intentionally try to generate novel diversity?’ 

Hodak appeared to be undeterred by the events of the film, based on the 1990 novel by Michael Crichton and starring Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum. 

It depicts the disastrous results of genetic scientists bringing dinosaurs back from extinction at the eponymous park on an island near Costa Rica. 

In the film, dinosaur cloning was accomplished by extracting dinosaur DNA from prehistoric mosquitoes preserved in amber. 

But due to a breakdown in the park’s security system, dinosaurs including a fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex and a venon-spitting Dilophosaurus go on a rampage. 

The billionaire philanthropist and creator of the park, played by the late Richard Attenborough, is ultimately responsible for several fatalities, as well as the near-deaths of his two grandchildren who presumably lived with the traumatic experience of being nearly mauled by raptors for the rest of their lives.   

Hodak said the firm, known for putting a computer chip in the brain of a pig, could 'probably build Jurassic Park'

Hodak said the firm, known for putting a computer chip in the brain of a pig, could 'probably build Jurassic Park'

Hodak said the firm, known for putting a computer chip in the brain of a pig, could ‘probably build Jurassic Park’

Neuralink, founded in 2016, is probably best known for its work on making a ‘whole brain interface’ – essentially a network of tiny electrodes linked to your brain that the company envisions will allow us to communicate wirelessly with the world. 

It would enable us to share our thoughts, fears, hopes and anxieties without demeaning ourselves with written or spoken language, the firm claims.  

Neuralink already has courted criticism, partly for its experiments on living animals – last year, Elon Musk unveiled a pig with an implant in its brain.    

Max Hodak (pictured) founded Neuralink with billionaire Elon Musk and others back in 2016

Max Hodak (pictured) founded Neuralink with billionaire Elon Musk and others back in 2016

Max Hodak (pictured) founded Neuralink with billionaire Elon Musk and others back in 2016

Innocent humans ran for their lives in the film thanks to the mad experiments of a philanthropist with too much money

Innocent humans ran for their lives in the film thanks to the mad experiments of a philanthropist with too much money

Innocent humans ran for their lives in the film thanks to the mad experiments of a philanthropist with too much money 

In a webcast, Musk showed off the animal, named Gertrude, with the coin-sized neural implant, called Link, which the firm wants to implant in humans. 

While Gertrude snuffled around in a pen, viewers saw her brain activity on a large screen. 

Earlier this year, Musk claimed in a wide-ranging online question and answer session that  he put a Neuralink implant in a monkey’s brain and that the animal can play video games ‘with his mind’.

In a Q&A on Clubhouse, a private social app, Musk claimed the implant builds a digital link between the brain and a computer, describing it as ‘like a fitbit for the skull’. 

Musk believes allowing human brains to interface with computers will help humans avoid being outpaced by artificial intelligence (AI). 

He has previously called AI ‘potentially more dangerous than nukes’ and has called the lack of AI regulation ‘insane’. 

A TIMELINE OF ELON MUSK’S COMMENTS ON AI

Musk has been a long-standing, and very vocal, condemner of AI technology and the precautions humans should take 

Musk has been a long-standing, and very vocal, condemner of AI technology and the precautions humans should take 

Musk has been a long-standing, and very vocal, condemner of AI technology and the precautions humans should take 

Elon Musk is one of the most prominent names and faces in developing technologies. 

The billionaire entrepreneur heads up SpaceX, Tesla and the Boring company. 

But while he is on the forefront of creating AI technologies, he is also acutely aware of its dangers. 

Here is a comprehensive timeline of all Musk’s premonitions, thoughts and warnings about AI, so far.   

August 2014 – ‘We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.’ 

October 2014 – ‘I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence.’

October 2014 – ‘With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.’ 

June 2016 – ‘The benign situation with ultra-intelligent AI is that we would be so far below in intelligence we’d be like a pet, or a house cat.’

July 2017 – ‘I think AI is something that is risky at the civilisation level, not merely at the individual risk level, and that’s why it really demands a lot of safety research.’ 

July 2017 – ‘I have exposure to the very most cutting-edge AI and I think people should be really concerned about it.’

July 2017 – ‘I keep sounding the alarm bell but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal.’

August 2017 –  ‘If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea.’

November 2017 – ‘Maybe there’s a five to 10 percent chance of success [of making AI safe].’

March 2018 – ‘AI is much more dangerous than nukes. So why do we have no regulatory oversight?’ 

April 2018 – ‘[AI is] a very important subject. It’s going to affect our lives in ways we can’t even imagine right now.’

April 2018 – ‘[We could create] an immortal dictator from which we would never escape.’ 

November 2018 – ‘Maybe AI will make me follow it, laugh like a demon & say who’s the pet now.’

September 2019 – ‘If advanced AI (beyond basic bots) hasn’t been applied to manipulate social media, it won’t be long before it is.’

February 2020 – ‘At Tesla, using AI to solve self-driving isn’t just icing on the cake, it the cake.’

July 2020 – ‘We’re headed toward a situation where AI is vastly smarter than humans and I think that time frame is less than five years from now. But that doesn’t mean that everything goes to hell in five years. It just means that things get unstable or weird.’ 


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