Elon Musk: Neuralink, AI, Tesla Autopilot, and the Pale Blue Dot – Artificial Intelligence with Lex Fridman

Check out the Artificial Intelligence Podcast Page

Key Takeaways

  • “There should be a government agency that oversees anything related to AI to confirm it doesn’t represent a public safety risk”Elon Musk
  • In the immediate future, Neuralink plans to use its hardware to cure multiple brain-related diseases (autism, schizophrenia, memory loss, etc.)
  • Next, their hardware will ideally be able to:
    • Return someone’s full motor control after a spinal cord injury
    • Restore brain functionality after a stroke
    • Cure debilitating genetic-related brain diseases
  • Neurlalink’s eventual aim is to merge digital superintelligence with human intelligence
    • It will be as if a “third layer” (digital superintelligence) is added to our brain (on top of the limbic system and cortex)
  • “Everything we’ve ever known and done is on the tiny blue dot. People get too trapped in their disputes; they don’t think of the big picture. They take civilization and our continued existence for granted. They shouldn’t do that. Look at the history of civilizations; they rise, and they fall.” Elon Musk
  • The universe is 13.8 billion-years-old, Earth is 4.5 billion-years-old, and in another half billion years or so, the sun will expand, evaporate the oceans, and make life impossible on Earth
    • If consciousness took 10% longer to evolve, it would never have evolved at all

Intro

Let’s Start With a Quote from Lex

  • “As scientists and engineers, most of us don’t question the way things are done. We simply follow the momentum of the crowd. But revolutionary ideas that change the world, on the small and large scale, happen when you return to the fundamentals and ask, ‘Is there a better way?'”Lex Fridman

Is consciousness unique to humans, or does it permeate all matter?

  • “I don’t think consciousness permeates all matter” – Elon Musk
  • There’s still TONS of room to understand our understanding of consciousness

Does an AI (artificial intelligence) system have to have consciousness to achieve human-level intelligence?

  • It depends what you mean by “intelligence”
  • “Are we headed towards a future where an AI will be able to out-think us in every way? The answer is unequivocally, yes.”Elon Musk
  • AI will definitely be self-aware. but that’s different from consciousness
    • BUT – Digital intelligence will likely be able to simulate what we consider consciousness to a degree where we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference

AI Safety

  • “There should be a government agency that oversees anything related to AI to confirm it doesn’t represent a public safety risk” Elon Musk
    • This would be similar to the roles of the Food & Drug Administration, the FAA for aircraft safety, etc.
    • “AI is unequivocally something that has the potential to be a danger to the public and should, therefore, have a regulatory agency, just as other things that are a danger to the public have a regulatory agency” 
  • But the problem: the government moves very slowly, and tends only to form a regulatory agency once something bad happens
    • For example, take the implementation of seat belts. It was known for a decade+ that they’d significantly increase safety, but the car industry fought their requirement by tooth and nail.

Understanding the Human Brain

  • Right now, the data we have as to how the brain/mind functions is quite limited
    • We have fMRI, “But that’s kind of like putting a stethoscope on the outside of a factory wall, and you can hear the sounds, but you have no idea what any of the machines are doing” – Elon Musk
    • To understand things at the neuron level, you need high-precision sensors. You also need to be able to trigger a neuron and see the response (a change in mood, perception, a jogging of memory, improved sight, etc.)
  • “We’ve got a monkey brain with a computer stuck on it. That’s the human brain.” Elon Musk
    • Much of our impulses (hunger, horniness, etc.) are driven by the monkey brain (the limbic system). As follows, the cortex (the computer, or human intelligence) is continually trying to appease the monkey brain.
      • Related to this: “A massive amount of thinking, a truly stupendous amount of thinking, has gone into sex… without purpose, without procreation. Which is actually quite a silly action in the absence of procreation… It’s pretty absurd, really.”
        • All to make the limbic system happy!
  • “The vast majority of our intelligence will eventually be digital” Elon Musk
    • As it is right now, the limbic system is very primitive in terms of intelligence – it really has no comprehension of what the cortex is doing 

Neuralink’s Road Map

  • Neuralink will first solve multiple brain-related diseases: autism, schizophrenia, memory loss, etc.
    • Nearly EVERYONE experiences memory loss at some point
  • Next, the hardware will ideally be able to:
    • Return someone’s full motor control after a spinal cord injury
    • Restore brain functionality after a stroke
    • Cure debilitating genetic-related brain diseases
  • Then, eventually, it’s purpose will serve to merge digital superintelligence and human intelligence
    • “We’ll never be able to be ‘smarter’ than a digital super-computer. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” – Elon Musk
    • It will be as if a “third layer” (digital superintelligence) is added to our brain (on top of the limbic system and cortex)
  • Here’s what it all comes down to:
    • Being able to read the right neurons, fire the right neurons, and effectively create a circuit to replace what’s broken with silicon 

The Rush

  • “It’s important that Neuralink solve this problem sooner rather than later because the point at which we have digital superintelligence, that’s when we pass the singularity and things become very uncertain… We want to have a human-brain interface before the singularity, or at least not long after it, to minimize existential risk for humanity and consciousness as we know it.” Elon Musk

What problems is Neurlalink facing?

  • Quite a lot…
    • Material science problems
      • This is perhaps the toughest: it’s hard to read/simulate an electrical signal in an electrically active area (the brain)
    • Electrical engineering problems
    • Software problems
    • Chip design problems
    • Microfabrication problems
  • What they’re doing is HARD:
    • You need a tiny electrode which interfaces with neurons that lasts for decades
    • The signal from the electrode then needs to be processed locally at low power (it has to be a power-efficient process, so the brain isn’t heated)
    • Then, the signal has to be used to stimulate another neuron in the process
  • On top of this, the implantation of Neurlink’s brain-computer interfaces implanted needs to be automated (like Lasik surgery, which is done by a robot)
    • The process can’t scale if a neurosurgeon is needed every time

Where does Tesla stand on its quest for full autonomy?

  • “Cars on Tesla autopilot on the highway are far more precise about being in the center of a lane than a person” Elon Musk
  • As it is right now with highway driving, a human very seldom needs to intervene
    • “In stop and go traffic, it’s far safer than a person”Elon Musk
    • When a Tesla car is on highway autopilot, it changes lanes and takes highway interchanges on its own
  • Barriers still left to solve:
    • Traffic lights and stop streets
    • Windy roads

Zoom Out

  • “Everything we’ve ever known and done is on the tiny blue dot. People get too trapped in their disputes; they don’t think of the big picture. They take civilization and our continued existence for granted. They shouldn’t do that. Look at the history of civilizations; they rise, and they fall.”Elon Musk
  • The universe is 13.8 billion-years-old, Earth is 4.5 billion-years-old, and in another half-billion years or so, the sun will expand, evaporate the oceans, and make life impossible on Earth
    • If consciousness took 10% longer to evolve, it would never have evolved at all
  • “I wonder how many dead one-planet civilizations there are out there in the cosmos that never made it to another planet, and ultimately extinguished themselves, or were destroyed by external factors. Probably a few.” – Elon Musk

Let’s End With This Quote from Carl Sagan

  • “Look again at that pale blue dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, every human being who ever was lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of competent religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines. Every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor, and explorer. Every teacher of marvels, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there. Automotive dust suspended in a sunbeam. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life.” Carl Sagan
Bookmark