The Merging of Humans and Artificial Intelligence: Where Are We At?

Luke Skywalker and his bionic hand.

Luke Skywalker…and Prostheses Enhanced With Artificial Intelligence. What? No, really, think about it. How does Luke’s bionic hand know what he wants it to do? It must be intelligent — adding to the long list of AI-enhanced commodities or characters in Star Wars including C-3PO, R2-D2, and K-2SO.

But unfortunately, we don’t live in the exhilarating world of Star Wars — or perhaps it’s fortunate, since it’d be a bummer if your home planet was blown up by your angsty secret father.

Getting back to our own world though, prostheses enhanced with artificial intelligence is a reality. They might not be as advanced as Luke’s hand yet, but they’re definitely on the right path.

Jason Barnes, a musician who lost his arm in an accident, was fitted with a prosthetic arm that enables individual finger movement through the use of artificial intelligence.

Many amputees’ everyday prostheses rely on electromyogram (EMG) impulses to sense what the wearer wants it to do. Though EMG sensing supports movement, it doesn’t enable interpretation detailed enough for something like individual finger movement.

By using an ultrasound probe, Gil Weinberg of Georgia Tech was able to train a deep learning framework, which then led to the creation of an algorithm that predicts what finger Barnes is trying to use.

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Pretty awesome, right? But apparently, not everyone wants to be bionic. Check out some answers to our survey here, and join the discussion here.

Elon Musk and his Neuralink project.

The merging of human and AI doesn’t stop at intelligent prostheses. Google’s AI guru, Ray Kurzweil, believes that humans and AI will merge by 2029 through internal implementation of technology. Companies like Neuralink, Kernel, and even Facebook are developing artificial intelligence implants and more…for your brain.

Your mind.

Your soul.

Would you want artificial intelligence messing about in your brain? I, again, asked my eclectic group of friends what their thoughts were.

Aisha: Would you be down to have an AI implant in your head if it would enhance your own intelligence greatly?

Female, aged 23: I would be interested in seeing the effects of an intracranial AI implant, but I would not want one personally. It’s kinda creepy to think of an artificial intelligence being physically inside my head. What if someone figured out how to hack the system? Then, they would have literal control of my mind.

Male, aged 22: This one is quite tempting. It’s difficult to find any cons in becoming more intelligent via AI implant. To be able to process information faster, remember more thoroughly, and strategize more effectively seems like a no brainer.

Them, aged 29: I would be 100% against having an artificial intelligence implant in my brain because technology is so easily corrupted by the simplest of methods.

Male, aged 50: I would be very concerned about hacking of any AI that contributes to brain/cognitive function. If the hacking were somehow made impossible (which I don’t believe to be), then I would only want AI if needed for me to successfully compete in the marketplace in order to provide for my family.

Again, if you’re the curious kind (or even if you aren’t), check out the full answers here.

Now, let’s discuss something that I’m worried about: Mark Zuckerberg having access to our brains.

Mark Zuckerberg sipping water.

In April, 2017, Facebook announced that it had sixty engineers working on an AI project that would enable you to type with your mind instead of your fingers — known as, “telepathic typing.”

In October of last year, however, Facebook’s Mind-Reading Chief quit…to pursue a “new endeavor.”

No one knows what this new endeavor is. If we’re lucky, her new endeavor involves Ryan Reynolds and Matthew Goode like that movie, Self/less. But it probably doesn’t. What/ever.

Considering the recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica, do we really want Mark Zuckerberg having access to our brain under the pretense of telepathic typing? I wouldn’t. Because while he’s at it, maybe he’ll access our deepest thoughts and share our most shocking secrets with some company named “Oxford Mindreaders” or something.

Do you want some rando company knowing that you think about what you did last summer all the time?

Alright, back to the reality of brain-involved AI, what is Mary Lou Jepsen, formerly of Facebook, working on?


They’re working on innovative imaging technologies. However, this doesn’t involve something actually going into your brain, it’s comprised of a wearable.

“The firm’s vision — changing how we read and write our bodies and brains — leverages important inventions in opto-electronic and holographic systems, using red and benign near-infrared light, which penetrate our flesh and bones. The goal is to use these technologies to build better, faster and cheaper solutions in healthcare — for strokes, cancer and many diseases, all working non-invasively — without opening the body or brain.” — OpenWater

How exactly is Open Water utilizing AI? Mary Lou Jepsen aims to combine optoelectronics with big data and AI to create a smaller, more functional MRI. Since this is an extracorporeal device, it’s not technically a merge — unless you consider hats to be a part of your being.

We’ll elaborate further on this in our upcoming blog on wearable AI.

Elon Musk has been working on Neuralink: a new brain-computer interface (BCI) company. The first goal for Neuralink is to help individuals with severe brain injuries. It utilizes neural lace, an ultra-thin mesh, that is injected into your skull and forms a body of electrodes around your brain to monitor brain function.

MIT is also working on super-thin wires to use in brain implants for medical treatment, and other BCIs are being developed to hopefully execute Biblical-esque miracles such as helping the paralyzed walk again. In late 2017, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) also began testing “closed-loop” intracranial AI implants that, after detecting patterns in the brain associated with mood disorders, shock the brain back into a healthy state.

I’m not going to spoil this picture for you, but check out Humans on AMC or Channel 4 (UK).

Though everything is either in development or in the early stages of implementation as far as the merging of humans and artificial intelligence goes, progress is definitely being made. Considering that the majority of the population is already so glued to their computers or phones, would the actual merging of technology with the human body be so unexpected? It’d amp up efficiency. Everyone says that current popular technology allows us instant gratification, but if AI was implemented internally, we’d be experiencing truly instant gratification.

It’d signify the end of the human race as we know it, but maybe that isn’t bad. Wouldn’t us merging with AI to enhance our mental and physical abilities be the ultimate next step in our evolution?

Would you want to be bionic? Participate in our poll here.

Source: Deep Learning on Medium