Elon Musk has already launched a new company dedicated to linking human brains with computers, The Wall Street Journal’s Rolfe Winklerfirst reported Monday.
Internal sources tell the WSJ that the company, called Neuralink, is developing “neural lace” technology that would allow people to communicate directly with machines without going through a physical interface. Neuralink was registered as a medical research company in California last July.
Neural lace involves implanting electrodes in the brain so people could upload or download their thoughts to or from a computer, according to the WSJ report. The product could allow humans to achieve higher levels of cognitive function.
Representatives for Tesla and Elon Musk did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.
Musk has expressed his interest in “neural lace” technology before. Muskfirst described the potential product at Vox Media’s Code Conference in 2016, saying it would allow humans to achieve “symbiosis” with machines.
He said the “neural lace” could prevent people from becoming “house cats” to artificial intelligence.
“I don’t love the idea of being a house cat, but what’s the solution? I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer,” Musk said at the Vox Code Conference. “A third, digital layer that could work well and symbiotically.”
Musk said he was preparing for an announcement regarding his neural lace concept on Twitter in January.
Facebook is also exploring similar technology through its secretive hardware division Building 8. The group is developing non-invasive, brain-computer interface technology that would allow people to communicate with external hardware devices.
Musk is already attempting to set up safety standards for artificial intelligence through his nonprofit, OpenAI , which he co-founded with Y Combinator’s Sam Altman in 2015. OpenAI’s mission is to advance”digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole.”
But Neuralink’s first products could involve using implants to treat disorders like epilepsy or major depression, the WSJ reports.
Researchers at universities like the University of California and Duke are also developing brain-computer interface technology that would allow paralyzed people to walk again .
Musk also plans to launch the Boring Company , a tunnel venture dedicated to building an underground transportation network to reduce traffic.