Artificial intelligence may one day surpass human intelligence. But, if designed right, it may also be used to enhance human cognition.
Tom Gruber, one of the inventors of the artificial intelligence voice interface Siri that now lives inside iPhones and the macOS operating system, shared a new idea at the TED 2017 conference today for using artificial intelligence to augment human memory.
“What if you could have a memory that was as good as computer memory and is about your life?” Gruber asked the audience. “What if you could remember every person you ever met? How to pronounce their name? Their family details? Their favorite sports? The last conversation you had with them?”
Gruber said he thinks that using artificial intelligence to catalog our experiences and to enhance our memory isn’t just a wild idea — it’s inevitable.
And the whole reason Gruber says it’s possible: Data about the media that we consume and the people we talk to is available because we use the internet and our smartphones to mediate our lives.
Privacy is no small consideration here. “We get to chose what is and is not recalled and retained,” said Gruber. “It’s absolutely essential that this be kept very secure.”
Though the idea of digitally storing our memories certainly raises a host of unsettling possibilities, Gruber says that AI memory enhancement could be a life-changing technology for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Gruber isn’t the only one in Silicon Valley thinking of ways to get inside your head. Last week at the annual Facebook developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg shared a project Facebook is working on to build non-invasive sensors that will read brain activity. The sensors are being designed to read the part of your brain that translates thoughts to speech to allow you to type what you’re thinking.
And Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has started a new company called Neuralink to build wireless brain-computer interface technology. Musk shared his idea for the technology, which he calls “neural lace,” at Recode’s Code Conference last year.
Watch Musk discuss neural lace and why he thinks it could help humans keep apace with rapid advancements in artificial intelligence.