Ideas, Intelligence & Elon Musk

May 2022

“Ideas come from Space.”
 Thomas Edison

Elon Musk

Elon Musk seems to be everywhere, these days. There is no doubt that he is a brilliant billionaire bent on putting his imprint upon modern life. His motives seem progressive, even while some of his ideas have met with questions and even derision.

Elon Reeve Musk is a 51-year-old South African-born entrepreneur, investor, and business magnate whose resumé is almost beyond belief. Musk is not quite an inventor in the mold of Edison and Tesla. But, his ideas and productions cover vast territory and application.

Let's begin by reviewing some of his most recent interests, then move particularly to his ideas on Artificial Intelligence (AI):

• Musk founded The Boring Company (TBC) to work at fixing the traffic jam problems of American cities. Since then, TBC has undertaken other projects for fast-speed tunnels. His Las Vegas Convention Center Loop tunnel is open to the public as long as they are attending a show at that venue. Musk’s tunnel in Vegas cost over $40 million to complete.  

• Elon Musk has conceived Hyperloop transportation as a network of passenger capsules, which he imagines will rest on a bed of air within a tube. Entirely powered by solar panels and traveling at almost the speed of sound, the Hyperloop he has envisioned could get you from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 35 minutes.

• Musk plans for his SpaceX to develop space tourism, flying people to the moon and back. He imagines that passengers will eventually travel faster and further into the solar system than ever before. Musk intends to have humans walking on Mars by 2024.

• Mr. Musk wants people to have access to Wi-Fi on every corner of the world. So, he plans to launch more than 4000 satellites into low orbit to reach those remote areas around the globe. SpaceX has placed nearly 2000 Starlink satellites into orbit as of early 2022.

• His Neuralink company intends to develop brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers via electrodes in the human brain. He expects those electrodes will allow people to upload and download thoughts with a computer. The first step in this idea is to use implanted electrodes to help people with spinal cord injuries to control computers with their brains.

Musk has demonstrated his device with live pigs which had brain implants. He said in his presentation on the project, “You need an electrical thing to solve an electrical problem.”

Musk's goal is to build a neural implant that can sync up to the human brain with Artificial Intelligence, enabling humans to control computers, prosthetic limbs, and other machines using only thoughts. He has other related dreams which go beyond therapeutics for the injured.

He believes that a brain-computer interface (BCI) system will be able to read and write information from millions of neurons in the brain. The interface will be able to translate human thought into computer commands, and vice versa.

Work toward these goals has been going on for over 15 years in various locations. But, fewer than 20 people in the U.S. have received a BCI implant. All implants have been done for restorative, medical purposes on a research basis. 

Professor Bolu Ajiboye at Case Western Reserve University recently said, “There are some really smart, innovative people working at Neuralink. They know what they're doing and I'm excited to see what they present.”

Once brain wave data is obtained through these implants, the big question becomes “How do we decode and interpret it?” Neural decoding is key and the subject study in laboratories around the world. Neuralink's efforts in this area have not been publicized.

At the same time, it has been suggested that, “A few pigs on a stage don't prove their case.” Then, how can a device transmit sufficient data without generating tissue-damaging heat has yet to be demonstrated in humans. Much, much more admittedly remains to be researched and made usable.

Microsoft and Elon Musk's OpenAI are teaming up to improve the way AI works and is used to solve real-world problems. Microsoft has agreed to invest $1 billion in a partnership with the research group OpenAI towards its efforts of building artificial general intelligence (AGI) that can rival and surpass the cognitive capabilities of humans.

This partnership aims to get computers to learn new skills and complete varied tasks like humans can. That contrasts with existing AI, which can learn specific jobs, such as understanding images and patterns but can't tackle complicated problems on its own.
Five years ago, Mr. Musk admitted that “the scariest problem” regarding artificial intelligence is its potential to create “fundamental existential risk for human civilization.” He has also said that regulatory oversight of developing artificial intelligence at the national and international levels will be necessary.

Nonetheless over the years, his car firm Tesla has not only pushed AI-powered autopilot systems beyond what regulators like the National Transportation Safety Board say is prudent, but has also failed to “implement critical NTSB safety recommendations.”

Musk seems to imagine AI solutions for what often are in fact social problems. It has been countered that, “warnings about AI make industry look socially minded and are often window-dressing meant to build trust without that trust being warranted.”

“When do we start,” Musk wondered, “to give away our humanity to machines?”

All sorts of questions arise about Mr. Musk’s ideas, especially those related to what is called Artificial Intelligence. Borrowing from some of the materials noted above, let us present a list of queries:

“You need an electrical thing to solve an electrical problem.”

The brain produces or channels electrical impulses which can be picked up by modern recording devices, as in the EEG (Electro-Encephalogram). Electricity can also be measured from the heart (EKG) and muscles (EMG) and potentially other body parts as well as the whole body. But, do medical scientists really understand the causes of these measurable forms of electricity? More fundamentally: Do medics really understand the human body, the human being, and human problems?

… A brain-computer interface (BCI) system will be able to read and write information from millions of neurons in the brain. The interface will be able to translate human thought into computer commands, and vice versa.

The creation of such an interface is a fantastic idea and may have uses not even imagined by Elon Musk. But, are human thoughts and thinking really understood and explained in our seemingly advanced computer age? Does science understand and can it explain how the brain works? Does thought originate in the brain or beyond? Has the brain-mind couplet been fully investigated?

“There are some really smart, innovative people working at Neuralink.
They know what they're doing …”

Do those innovators really know what they are doing – any more than scientists who have expended decades and many billions – maybe trillions – of dollars over generations trying to understand the likes of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, etc? Where are the CURES which have been repeatedly promised to appear over the years for muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, cancer, etc?

Such common bodily ills, as noted above, have yet to be usefully understood even in our Scientific Times. So, how can Mr. Musk reasonably imagine taking on the terra incognita of the brain and coming to fruitful results?

Boring through soil to create tunnels and flying through space to carry tourists are relatively straightforward propositions. Those sorts of projects have been keeping humans busy for generations. Are they really comparable to boring into human brains and flying into the process of human thought?

Again, dare we say that Elon Musk, laudable as his efforts and intentions may be, lacks more than a few principles in his plans. If we could confer with Musk, we would ask him to Imagine answers to these simple yet profound questions:

• What is a thought? How can one conceive of capturing a thought?

We imagine that Mr. Musk thinks of a thought as an assembly of electrons which an electrical device will some day detect, capture and even interpret. But, the best of our thinkers imagine thoughts, like the universe and the beings which make it up, to be holographic – parts of the whole being. Will a device ever be able to “capture a whole being”?

At this date in human history, it seems farfetched to imagine a machine “capturing thoughts.” As far as we know, it is quite rare even for a human being to grasp one thought in its entirety. Those who have, in the likes of seers and clairvoyants, are probably not on the payroll at Neuralink.

The reader must have heard the aphorism that, “Thoughts are things.” Thoughts live and move in a  subtler dimension than relate to an “electrical problem” which an “electrical thing” will master.

• What is the difference between brain and mind?

“The mind is not in the body (brain), so much as the body is in the mind.”
ancient saying

Elon Musk needs to understand that the brain and mind are not synonymous. That mind stands behind and beyond the brain, rather than being a product of a wonderfully-made, yet material bodily organ covered by the skull. Dare we suggest that Mr. Musk expand his reading to the Great Thinkers, past and present, of East and West. He might also do well to contemplate the nature of inspiration which Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison surely did.

Even in the modern West, there has been sufficient research to establish that thoughts, memories and sentience can exist without physical brains. Furthermore, memories cannot be pinpointed at any location in the human brain. Wilder Penfield, the noted neurosurgeon concluded decades ago that, “The record is not in the cortex.” We simply do not carry our memories inside our heads (brains).

“Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it,
is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it,
parted from it by the filmiest of screens,
there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.”
William James

• How do thinking and intelligence relate?

Thinking is only one form of intelligence which creatures express. Emotions, passions, sensations must be brought into the conversation. Plants may not think, but it has been well shown that they have sensations and feelings.

“Ideas come from Space.”
Thomas Edison

Then, we dare to broach the Idea which Edison pointed to: The greatest Ideas, amongst all the rest, originate beyond the mind of a single human being. They are impressions from Superior Beings which generally do not show themselves in public or on the world stage. But, they choose human instruments through which to think, teach, and change the planet for the good.

• What is the difference between human intelligence and the artificial kind? 

So, let it be imagined that there are several kinds of consciousness-intelligence at work in the world. The human kind is hardly the highest.

What we focus on, ponder, we eventually – however long it takes – become. We do have our own powers and properties of mind. But, humans are also the instruments of Higher Beings as well as those of Dark Ones. Both have effects in the outer, material world through human thought, purpose and action. When this happens, we might well say that artificial intelligence has been effected.

The results, which we can recognize around us as plain as day, are not always beneficial and life-enhancing. Dark Forces are always at work. For those with eyes to see, their expression through power, greed, lust, etc. are quite obvious and plentiful in our day.

• Where do spirit and soul fit into these equations?

Mr. Musk might do well to consider whom he now serves in his grandiose plans. He seems to be a very heady kind of man. Willful, power-driven, goal-oriented. But, what about heart and soul?

The one evidence in that regard which we have found, in our admittedly limited study of Mr. Musk, appeared when he wondered, “When do we start to give away our humanity to machines?”

Elon Musk has addressed at least in modest ways his worry that we may some day give away our humanity to machines. But following on his grandiose ventures, Elon Musk could well be setting himself up to be a strategic factor in how the world works – for evil as well as good – in the future. He could in fact help hand life and death over to robots, machines and the artificial intelligence which runs them.

Musk has mentioned the Terminator films which offer clues as to how Artificial Intelligence could go wrong with cyborgs ultimately fighting humans for control of the planet. We are also reminded of an earlier film, 2001 Space Odyssey, in which the spaceship’s misbehaving computer takes control of the craft. These films seem to give hints of real and dire possibilities in coming times.

How can Musk or anyone protect against AI going wrong? What does Murphy’s Law say? “If something can go wrong, it will.”

We might add another aphorism: “Garbage in, garbage out.” Those who program computers are producing great benefits for life. Next, they may create robots, artificially-intelligent devices with all sorts of uses. Along the way, new devices always have glitches. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that programmers can leave remnants of their own thoughts and passions in their products, beyond the obvious physical or digital effects.

The ghost and ghost impressions of a programmer can stay with a computer. Believe it or not. Spirit work through minds into the physical in any endeavor. And, it is Spirit which is most lasting and most important in our existence. The spirit, thought, and intent of our actions are ever present in and around us; to be recognized by those who have eyes to see.

We can gain a few further hints and glimpses of Elon Musk by studying his horoscope.

Briefly but not conclusively, let us remark on four points in Musk's chart:

Elon Musk Horoscope

A – His Ascendant is in the last degree of Gemini and is surrounded by Sun, Mercury and Venus. Versatility and duality (Gemini) are innate to his soul. Communication and transportation (Mercury) are part of his very being (1st house). His 12th house Venus in Gemini suggests dual-mindedness. Psychiatrists sometimes use another label for that state.

B – At the Nadir of his chart, we find evidence of a powerful (Pluto) and even “electrical” (Uranus) mind seeking to communicate through the 3rd house. With Lilith (Black Moon) placed between those two planets, we can expect “otherworldly” kinds of thinking. These forces sit at the very bedrock of Musk’s present incarnation.

C. Jupiter and Neptune in conjunction point to expansive creativity. This ability can be grandiose and/or benevolent via Jupiter and high-minded and/or deceptive through Neptune. In this most deceptive time in the world with Neptune in Pisces, we wonder how Mr. Musk’s natal Neptune interacts with transiting Neptune.

D. Musk has Chiron closely conjunct his Midheaven in Aries. This may be the Key to his chart. Will Elon Musk help to heal society? Or will he add to its wounds? Or both?

We wonder whether Mr. Musk is motivated far more by intellect than heart. In our limited readings and views of Musk in action, we have yet to see the words Love or Spirit used. 

Musk does not show a dark side of himself in public. But, we all have one. And, power and money can seduce all manner of human beings.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

Our deepest concern is that Musk believes and acts in “simulation mode.” Real versus engineered life. Is Elon Musk for real? Or is he an Artificial Intelligence? Or both.

A final query: What is the sense of touring Mars when our Earth home appears far from healthy and sane?

Comments always welcome at theportableschool at gmail dot com.

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