Elon Musk said his AI brain chips company could ‘solve’ autism and schizophrenia

  • Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk went on the Artificial Intelligence podcast with Lex Fridman and discussed his neural AI technology company Neuralink, which hopes to implant chips into human brains.
  • Musk said he believes Neuralink will “solve a lot of brain-related diseases,” naming autism and schizophrenia as examples. Autism is not a disease.
  • Musk has talked before about Neuralink’s potential to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
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Elon Musk believes his neural technology company Neuralink will be able to “solve” schizophrenia and autism.

Speaking on the Artificial Intelligence podcast with Lex Fridman, published Tuesday, Musk was asked what he thinks are the most exciting impacts he foresees for his company Neuralink. Neuralink’s goal is to develop an AI-enabled chip that could be implanted in a person’s brain, where it would be able to both record brain activity and potentially stimulate it.

“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,” replied Musk.

It was not clear what Musk meant by “solving” autism, which is not a disease but a developmental disability.

“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. The World Health Organisation characterises schizophrenia as a “severe mental disorder.”

Musk founded Neuralink in 2016, and for the first few years of its existence the company was relatively secretive.

This year the company has been more vocal: it published a white paper in July about its design for a brain chip, and Elon Musk excitedly announced that the company had begun animal testing on monkeys.

An illustration of Neuralink’s design: the chip sits behind the ear while electrodes are threaded into the brain.
Neuralink/YouTube


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 super intelligence. We will not be able to be smarter than a digital super computer, so therefore if you cannot beat ’em, join ’em,” Musk told Fridman.

You can listen to the full interview here:

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