The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on February 13, 2017

Elon Musk is convinced we need to become machines or risk being replaced by them

Elon Musk is convinced we need to become machines or risk being replaced by them
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Elon Musk thinks we need to become more cyborg-like.

At the World Government Summit today in Dubai, Musk foretold of a future that sees humans merging with machines as the next logical step in the evolutionary chain. This evolutionary process, he speculated, requires high bandwidth interfaces that connect the brain directly to that of a machine to solve the “control problem and the usefulness problem.”

Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence. It’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output.

In Musk’s vision, humans will be replaced by AI at a rapid rate if we don’t evolve to better communicate with machines.

Musk explained that machines communicate “a trillion bits per second” while the comparatively sluggish human counterpart maxes out at around 10 bits per second. Next time you pick up your smartphone think of how much faster you could complete a desired task if you could think it and your smartphone would understand. The alternative, barking orders to a digital assistant, or actually touching the device, is slowing us down, according to Musk.

Some high bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem.

We’re seeing the first stages of this with advanced heads-up displays (HUDs) like those made for the F-35 fighter jet, or Nuviz’s AR motorcycle helmet. It’s not brain-to-computer wiring, but mixed reality signifies a solid start to what could one day lead to Matrix-like ports that connect these devices, and others, directly to the brain. And I think we’re all on board for living in that version of the future.

As Musk says, “If you can’t beat the machines, it’s better to become one.”

Back to top