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Our #1 AI Hype of 2020!: Elon Musk Will Fix Your Brain!

The device has been tried on rats, mice, and pigs.

In #2 of our Top Ten AI Hypes, a guy left his day job to help make AI that thinks like people. Honestly, some of us were stuck for what we could do to top that! Well, our nerds came through for #1!: How about “Elon Musk wants to connect your BRAIN to a computer this year as ‘awesome’ Neuralink mind-chip prepares to launch” (The Sun)

ELON Musk has tweeted that his brain-computer chip company Neuralink is working on an “awesome” version of the device.

The kooky billionaire believes his brain interface tech will turn humans into a genius super race.

Charlotte Edwards, “Elon Musk wants to connect your BRAIN to a computer this year as ‘awesome’ Neuralink mind-chip prepares to launch” at The U. S. Sun

Admittedly, it’s a tabloid, The Sun and it’s, well, Elon Musk. Still, it’s the holidays for a few more days. And the whole thing overlaps nicely with Sci-Fi Saturday. Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks discusses with Eric Holloway and Jonathan Bartlett overyhyped AI ideas, from a year in which we saw major advances, along with inevitable hypes. So, from the AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part III,here’s #1!:

Our story begins at 22:12. Here’s a partial transcript. Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript.

Robert J. Marks: Okay. Number one has to do with Musk again. Musk wants to connect your brain to a computer this year. And he says it’s going to be awesome with his so-called Neuralink mind chip, which he is preparing to launch. I’ve read some about this. Jonathan, what’s going on here?

Jonathan Bartlett: Neuralink is … basically what he’s done is he’s created these ultra thin wires and kind of a robotic sewing machine that can insert these super thin wires into a brain. Musk’s idea is that he basically believes that everything interesting that happens in your brain is basically electronic signals, and therefore, if he can get electrodes in there, anything that’s wrong with your brain, if you can get enough electrodes pumping data fast enough, that he could fix whatever’s wrong with your brain by simply offloading it to some sort of an external processor. And so that’s the idea of Neuralink, that he can basically make a jack that connects an external computer into your brain and take over functions.

Robert J. Marks: I’m already connected to a computer, but I don’t have to have a chip in my brain; I use my fingers on my keyboard and that links me to all of the knowledge in the world. When are you going to get your implant, Jonathan?

Jonathan Bartlett: I don’t think I’ll be trusting anybody with that anytime soon. It seems a little invasive. Although, some people are clamoring for it. They’re like, “Yeah, I want to enhance myself.” And part of me wonders if there are self-esteem issues that are circling around that.

Robert J. Marks:That’s interesting. Do you know if he’s had any success at all in this Neuralink transplant, or … ?

Jonathan Bartlett (pictured): As far as I’m aware, they haven’t done anything with humans yet. I could be wrong on that, but generally, they’ve been doing rats or mice [and pigs]. Anyway, this all kind of traces back to … I wrote an article about halfway through the year [“Elon Musk’s Myths About the Mind.”]

Both Level Five self-driving and Neuralink have an interesting connection, and that is this myth about the mind:

That the mind is just basically a computer processor. And this is kind of what you and Eric were talking about a moment ago, this myth about the mind, that all it is just extended computation. And so for Musk, anything about the mind that’s wrong, he can fix because for him, everything about the mind is signals. And so all he has to do is get something attached to your brain that’s processing signals fast enough, and he can fix it.

Now, that’s a presumption. It’s actually a huge presumption. I imagine he’s got to know that that’s a big leap of faith, but he’s pushing it as if he knows that that’s the answer. And that’s the thing that’s frustrating is that the claims that he makes for this are just outlandish because he goes into things that we actually don’t even know what the causes are. And he claims that Neuralink will be the solution. And to say that a device that has not even been tried out is the cure for something for which we don’t know the cause, that seems a little over-hyped to me …

Well, here’s the rest of the countdown. Read them and think:

2 Computers can be as smart as humans if we crowdfund them Eric Holloway: Y Combinator’s Sam Altman is taking a crazy movement to its logical conclusion. Okay. It is one thing to be regarded as a force of nature by colleagues and another thing to actually be, just for example, the polar vortex.

3 AI, we are now told, knows when it shouldn’t be trusted! Gödel’s Second Incompleteness Theorem says that, for any system that can reliably tell you that things are true or false, it cannot tell you that it itself is reliable. Holloway: If you just have an AI that says “Never trust me,.” it’s always going to be right.

4 Elon Musk: This time autopilot is going to WORK!Jonathan Bartlett: I have to say, part of me loves Elon Musk and part of me can’t stand the guy Eric Holloway: Tesla is supposedly worth more than Apple now. Who said you can’t make money with science fiction?

5 AI hype: AI could go psychotic due to lack of sleep Well, that’s what we can hear from Scientific American, if we believe all we read. It seems to be an effort to make AI seem more human than it really is.

6 in our Top 12 AI hypes A Conversation bot is cool —If you really lower your standards. A system that supposedly generates conversation—but have you noticed what is says? Bartlett: you could also ask “Who was President in 1600,” and it would give you an answer, not recognizing that the United States didn’t exist in 1600.

7 AI Can Create Great New Video Games All by Itself! In our 2020 “Dirty Dozen” AI myths: It’s actually just remixing previous games. Eric Holloway describes it as like a bad dream of PACMan. Well, see if it is fun.

8 in our AI Hype Countdown: AI is better than doctors! Sick of paying for health care insurance? Guess what? AI is better ! Or maybe, wait… Only 2 of the 81 studies favoring AI used randomized trials. Non-randomized trials mean that researchers might choose data that make their algorithm work.

9: Erica the Robot stars in a film. But really, does she? This is just going to be a fancier Muppets movie, Eric Holloway predicts, with a bit more electronics. Often, making the robot sound like a real person is just an underpaid engineer in the back, running the algorithm a couple of times on new data sets. Also: Jonathan Bartlett wrote in to comment “Erica, robot film star, is pretty typical modern-day puppeteering — fun, for sure, but not a big breaththrough.

10: Big AI claims fail to work outside lab. A recent article in Scientific American makes clear that grand claims are often not followed up with great achievements. This problem in artificial intelligence research goes back to the 1950s and is based on refusal to grapple with built-in fundamental limits.

11: A lot of AI is as transparent as your fridge A great deal of high tech today is owned by corporations. Lack of transparency means that people trained in computer science are often not in a position to evaluate what the technology is and isn’t doing.

12! AI is going to solve all our problems soon! While the AI industry is making real progress, so, inevitably, is hype. For example, machines that work in the lab often flunk real settings.

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Our #1 AI Hype of 2020!: Elon Musk Will Fix Your Brain!