The battle for the “soul” of the global economy is underway. The next few decades will likely decide whether capitalism survives or is replaced with a techno-fuelled quasi-socialism where robots do most of the jobs while humans live off government support, likely a designated guaranteed or basic income.
Many experts believe wide-scale automation is inevitable. Even the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, recently announced it’s building an AI to replace its managers, many of whom are highly educated and previously thought invulnerable to automation. Robots, it seems, will manage everything. Or will they?
A next-generation technology, likely to arrive in five to 10 years, is being credited as the saviour of capitalism. Known today as neural prosthetics, or neural lace, it’s essentially tech that reads your brainwaves. This tech promises to connect our brains to the cloud and AI to link us with machines using thought alone.
While this technology sounds farfetched, hundreds of thousands of people globally have implants connected to their brains. Up till now, all of them have been implanted for medical reasons, with the most common being the cochlear implant which allows the deaf to hear by stimulating the auditory nerve. Increasingly, patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are testing out the technology in the hope of staving off their diseases. And President Obama’s BRAIN initiative, announced in 2013, allocated $70 million to government-funded DARPA to jumpstart the field of brain implants.
For humans to beat the machines, or at least be competitive, we’re going to have to follow this path; to connect with them directly.
One California startup founded by entrepreneur Bryan Johnson is called Kernel. Kernel wants to build a neural prosthetic that would allow humans, among other things, to keep up with the machines in real time, similar to a human mind literally being connected to the internet and all its algorithms and search functions.
Elsewhere, Elon Musk recently announced plans to start a neural lace company called Neuralink. Known for making wild tech bets, Musk said in Dubai, in March: “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.” In particular, he hopes to have success with his new company in just five years’ time.