Elon Musk’s company Neuralink was in the news this week, and I pretty much ignored it because I’m skeptical of the man. He overpromises, he thinks he’s an expert in more fields than he actually is, doesn’t treat his workers well — really more on the Edison side of things than the Tesla side.
I’m reading William Gibson’s The Peripheral — the first of his novels I’ve thoroughly enjoyed since the Sprawl series — and the technology level there is based on motor control and sensory feedback from machines and biomechanical “peripherals.” It’s a lot to think about in terms of who we are, but this article goes well beyond that.
I hope that, in the current wave of realization that giving our data to big corporations and letting them mediate our personal relationships, we’ll also be cautious about letting those corporations into our brains. Yes, I’m excited about the potential for enhanced human… humanness, that this technology could represent. But I don’t think the threat is from evil AIs, so much as it is from human greed and malice.
I usually roll my eyes at warnings on becoming too dependent on technology. We’re not all dumb because we learned to use pocket calculators, and we haven’t lost the skill of communication now that we don’t write things in cursive. It’s the opposite… mostly. Misinformation and disinformation, it turns out, aren’t conquered by simply giving people access to information. Now imagine, instead of garbage like Gamergate and QAnon and Pizzagate and anti-vax spreading via YouTube and Facebook and Twitter, those ideas just arrive in your brain as if you had thought them — disguised alongside all the true information that you rely on. That truly scares me.