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Elon Musk: We’re already cyborgs

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...but could become pets

Elon Musk is an interesting guy. He’s also a cyborg, just like the rest of us.

Musk was in rare form on stage with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg at Code Conference 2016. Doffing his futurist cap, Musk the soothsayer laid out a number of possible scenarios for us to survive the rise of AI, if at all.

The solution is to merge in a symbiotic way with digital intelligence

"We’re already a cyborg," said Musk. "You have a digital version of yourself, a partial version of yourself online in the form of your emails, your social media, and all the things that you do." We already have "super powers," contends Musk, citing the world’s access to smartphones and personal computers. "You have more power than the president of the United States had 20 years ago. You can answer any question, you can video conference with anyone, anywhere. You can send messages to millions of people instantly. Just do incredible things."  But that’s only the start.

The constraint, Musk says, is input / output. The solution is to merge in some kind of symbiotic way with digital intelligence. In other words, a "neural lace." Something scientists are already developing. Here’s Smithsonian Magazine describing just such a system developed at Harvard University:

"Implanted via injection, a grid of wires only a few millimeters across can insinuate itself with living neurons and eavesdrop on their chatter, offering a way for electronics to interface with your brain activity."

Failing that, humanity should be prepared to become pets of our future robotic overlords. "If you assume any rate of advancement in AI, we’ll be left behind," says Musk, "by a lot." In what Musk calls the "benign" scenario, he says "We would be so far below them in intelligence that we would be like a pet. Like a house cat."

In other words, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.