Elon Musk Claims Neuralink Can “Solve” Autism And Schizophrenia

Elon Musk is back into a podcast show after a quite long break and again he is on fire. We all know what happens when last time Musk visited a post cast show, the smoke of Joe Rogan podcast was everywhere, but that’s a different story for a different day.

Elon Musk’s appearance on Lex Fridman’s Artificial Intelligence podcast that’s resulted in some backlash for the Tesla and SpaceX chief. Musk claimed that his company Neuralink’s experimental brain-computer interface technology would be able to “solve” neurological diseases.

During the podcast, speaking on Artifical Intelligence Lex Fridman asked Elon Musk what he thinks are the most exciting impacts he foresees for his company Neuralink.

In response to this Elon Musk said: “So Neuralink I think, at first, will solve a lot of brain-related diseases. So, could be anything from, like, autism, schizophrenia, memory loss – like everyone experiences memory loss at certain points in age. Parents can’t remember their kids’ names and that kind of thing.”

Musk said, “to be able to do this, you have to be able to interface with the neurons at a detail level, and you need to be able to fire the right neurons, read the right neurons and then effectively create a circuit to replace what’s broken with silicon, which will end up having the same functionality.”

If that process goes well, the chips could ultimately be implanted in healthy brains to create “a tertiary layer of digital superintelligence,” Musk said, the limbic systems are the primary layer and the cortex is the 2nd layer.

It’s totally clear in his words that Musk is trying to showcase how important and useful Neuralink technology is for the health sector and you must definitely take it seriously. But there are many problems in his claims; In other words, Musk is just babbling. His claims are nothing but only hyperbolic sentences.

And the reason why I’m saying is that autism as a “disease” that needs to be cured reveals a misguided view of what autism is and what causes it. In fact, autism isn’t a disease but a developmental disability and it cannot be cured or solved.

Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.” It also notes that autism is a spectrum disorder “most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies autism as “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.”

“Autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity,” according to the UK National Autistic  Society.

There is also some ethical debate in the medical community over whether autism, which is considered a disorder, should be treated as part of a person’s identity and not a condition to be fixed.

While schizophrenia can be a debilitating mental condition, autism is more tightly linked to a sense of identity and listing it as a disease to be solved as Musk did risks further stigmatizing a community pushing for better treatment and representation.

Elon Musk started Neuralink in 2016. The companies prime goal is to develop a system that can be implanted in paralyzed humans, allowing them to control phones or computers through the brain directly.

The company claims that they have already achieved success in implanting this kind of chips in rats and plans and the company hopes to start testing the technology on humans in 2020.

Musk has previously said that the technology could be used to treat neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  He also told Fridman that it could be used to solve “critical damage to the brain or the spinal cord.”But his eventual goal is to merge human consciousness with AI.

“It’s [Neuralink] intended to address the existential risk associated with digital superintelligence. We will not be able to be smarter than a digital supercomputer, so therefore if you cannot beat ’em, join ’em,” Musk said.

This isn’t Musk’s first run-in with trouble from a podcast appearance. When he was on Joe Rogan’s podcast in the fall of 2018, he smoked weed which led to a bit of a PR mess that then prompted NASA to conduct a “workplace culture” review at SpaceX.

Asked whether he’s hopeful that Neuralink will allow us to ultimately ride the wave of the improving AI system, Musk said, “I think the chance is above 0%.”

“Maybe it will be improving from one-in-a-thousand to one-in-a-hundred and then to one-in-ten,” he added. “Depends on the rate of improvement of Neuralink and how fast we are able to make progress.#

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