Even though real life is already starting to resemble a dystopian movie thanks to Donald Trump’s presidency, famous rich guy Elon Musk—one of the people behind Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal, to name a few—seems to think that this dystopia doesn’t have nearly enough of a sci-fi edge. According to CNBC (via The Verge), Musk recently told the attendees at the World Government Summit in Dubai that humans are going to have to become cyborgs if they want to compete with the futuristic artificial intelligences that guys like him are working on.
He says it’s “mostly about the bandwidth,” in the sense that a computer can communicate at “a trillion bits per second” while a pathetic human brain can only do it at “about 10 bits per second.” Because of that, he says, humans are going to need to upgrade themselves in order to keep up. His argument is less about merging with technology in order to create some kind of perfect, Borg-like society, though, as one of his chief concerns is what he calls “deep AI,” or an AI that is “smarter than the smartest human.” He wants mankind to stay relevant so we can keep systems like that in check and avoid something like The Matrix, not so we can surrender our humanity and bow down before some supreme machine overlord.
It’s an interesting spin on a classic sci-fi trope, but it still doesn’t really bode well for humanity’s future. Cyborgs tend to look a little silly, whether it’s Steve Austin in his tracksuit or Lobot with his headgear, and even if mankind goes the Ghost In The Shell route, we’ll need to answer all sorts of philosophical questions about what “identity” really means, and nobody has time for that. Also, you know Musk is going to be the guy running the first institute that turns humans into cyborgs, so of course he’s going out and telling people they need to make the leap and get some brain implants or whatever.
For all we know, he’s already turned himself into a cyborg, and this is part of his scheme to assimilate the rest of mankind. Now there’s a movie.