I’ve once again walked away from a Tim Urban article with a completely different perspective on what humanity’s future could turn out to be: this time with Elon Musk’s desire to merge human brains and computers.
One thing I wish he’d have touched on more is just how scary an effective brain-machine interface would be. If you think privacy advocates are being paranoid at abuses with today’s level of technology, think of where we’ll be if machinery is tied in with our actual brain. Imagine if advertising companies could get access to granular neural responses to their marketing campaigns. Or know how much you’re thinking about their brand on a daily basis before and after seeing a particular advertisement. What if tv shows and movies could be free, so long as you opt-in to allowing advertisers access to your thoughts while watching? This list could go on for a while, but you get the idea.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about the potential gains we’d see as a species from having an advanced BMI, and Urban even mentions that these scary feelings always happen with new technologies that people don’t understand. That being said, the idea of humanity having that level of access to each other’s brains is fucking terrifying; a bit moreso than “these kids are staring at their phones all day , the world is going down the crapper!” I’m just worried that our lack of ability to properly manage ethics with today’s level of technology is only going to be amplified as we continue to progress, especially once we get further down the path of BMIs.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t invent the magic wizard hat, simply that we need to tread very carefully.