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Tesla’s Musk may now want to plug into your brain

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Elon Musk has stated that he is “fairly confident” that Model 3 deliveries will start by the end of 2017. Tesla stock was on the rise during late morning trading Friday.
Newslook

SAN FRANCISCO — Electric cars dotting the planet. Rockets racing to Mars. Tunnels improving traffic. Solar panels eliminating oil dependency.

If there’s anything else entrepreneur has on his To Do list, he’ll have to also invent life-extension technology just so he can stick around long enough to get everything done.

And now there’s another venture: creating micro-implants that once inserted in the brain can not just fix conditions such as epilepsy but potentially turn your brain into a computer-assisted powerhouse. Time to screen The Matrix, people.

Musk is said to be investing in a new company called Neuralink, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal website Monday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Neuralink’s focus is on cranial computers, or the implanting of small electrodes through brain surgery that beyond their medical benefits would, in theory, allow thoughts to be transfered far more quickly than, say, thinking a thought and then using thumbs or fingers or even voice to communicate that information.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the report, which included confirmation of Musk’s involvement from Max Hodak, a “member of the founding team” who previously cofounded robotic lab services company Transcriptic.

But the topic clearly has been on the big brain of Musk, 45, who is already busy wrangling the ambitious plans of Tesla (which combines the electric automaker’s goals to democratize EVs with a mission to make solar energy more practical) and SpaceX (whose rockets are winning government contracts but whose mission is decidedly focused on Mars).

Musk has also come up with the idea for Hyperloop, a high speed transportation system being pursued by other companies, and has posited that the solution for traffic in Los Angeles, where he lives, could be provided by his new drilling venture playfully called The Boring Company. Musk also is on a few business councils convened by President Trump.

At a conference in June, Musk cautioned that “if you assume any rate of advancement in (artificial intelligence), we will be left behind by a lot.”

In August, Musk tweeted a reply to a question about his research into “neural lace” was going. “Making progress,” Musk tweeted. “Maybe something to announce in a few months.”

In late 2015, Musk joined a group that launched OpenAI, a non-profit aimed an promoting open-source research into artificial intelligence. Experts have cautioned that while the exponential growth in computing power could lead to breakthroughs in science and health, misuse of such tech could doom the species. As could being lapped intellectually by our sentient computing friends.

“I don’t know a lot of people who love the idea of living under a despot,” Musk said last June.

But, he added, “If AI power is broadly distributed to the degree that we can link AI power to each individual’s will — you would have your AI agent, everybody would have their AI agent — then if somebody did try to something really terrible, then the collective will of others could overcome that bad actor.”

Follow USA TODAY tech reporter Marco della Cava on Twitter.

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