Essay on the Neural Lace

Published May 22, 2019

Imagine a world where artificial general intelligence is a thing, where robots assemble robots, where computers cure cancer, and where everything we do today is automated. In such a robot world, the problems arise with humans – not robots. What is left to do for us, if we are replaced in everything we do today? More importantly, how can computers align with our values, so they work with us and not against us?

The Solution

In my opinion, an inevitable solution is a device called neural lace. It’s a brain implant that extends your intelligence by connecting neurons in your brain to an artificial neural network. It works by replicating processes of your brain, with the speed and scalability perks of silicon. Wearing such a device must feel like an epiphany, where suddenly you can make sense of things you could not before.

Why is a neural lace inevitable? First of all, it keeps humans at work – as they are not replaced but augmented. Second, it’s of high economic interest because it increases productivity. Finally, it solves the problem of value-alignment: a neural lace doesn’t act on its own, keeping humans in charge. These reasons make me to strongly believe a neural lace to be inevitable in a post-AGI world. Although a neural lace may solve some of AGI’s problems, it inherently comes with new, bigger controversies.

Bye, Meritocracy

Top of society has always consisted of the brightest minds, the greatest thinkers, the ones who come up with best ideas and most ingenious inventions. If we assume a neural lace to be inevitable, people having access to such a device will outsmart others. They will have unattainable brain capabilities, will be able to memorize and comprehend more than their peers and will be able to see connections where others don’t. Hence, access to such devices will be very desirable. To be at top of the society will mean having a neural lace. This slashes even the slightest delusion of a meritocracy, as only the one percent may be able to afford such devices. Suddenly being rich means being smart.

As cognitive abilities grow, leadership and value-creation in the society will shift towards intelligence-augmented people. Being 100x more intelligent than your rivals will obviously mean outperforming them. Being smarter also means producing things, that people need, more efficiently. As more value is created by intelligence augmented people this way, a social divide is unavoidable. If 99% of the population accounts only for 1% of value creation in the economy, society will be split. Two groups emerge: a small, elite group of people who have access to neural laces, and the rest. In my opinion, this will be the biggest controversy in the history of mankind.