Musk's Mind-Bender

by Gill D on August 29, 2020

Elon Musk just presented a live progress update for Neuralink; the company he founded to create a direct, ultra-low latency connection between our brains and computers. So, essentially, a brain chip. This is the second version of Neuralink’s robot that was presented last year in July.

Before the session started, Musk took to Twitter to remind his 38.3 million followers that the demonstration was starting soon. He started today’s live stream by emphasizing the presentation was about recruiting great people to join the company to help the product come to fruition. His test subjects today were pigs, Joyce, Gertrude, and Dorothy. Joyce does not have a Neuralink implant, Gertrude does, and Dorothy used to have one, but it was removed. His reason behind this was to show there is no difference between the pigs’ behavior whether they had an implant or not.
 
The Neuralink device is inserted into the brain by a robot. This robot performs high precision brain surgery to implant the chip that communicates wirelessly with an external receiver to transmit thought-based input to computers. The idea behind Neuralink is to solve important brain and spine problems with a seamlessly implanted device. As Musk pointed out, everyone at some point over their lives will develop memory loss, hearing loss, blindness, paralysis, depression, insomnia, extreme pain, seizures, anxiety, addiction, strokes, or brain damage.

Neuralink is designed to help people with mental conditions and paraplegics with basics tasks like using a smartphone, using a mouse attached to a computer, without any physical activity. The chip and electrodes that make up the Neuralink technology will reside beneath the skull. 

Don’t expect to have wires all over your brain because the electrodes are microscopic threads, which is why Neuralink needed a robot to do the implant surgery. It is a complex task to insert something so small and so fragile into the brain that the most qualified human neurosurgeon would not be capable of. This is engineered to be an undetectable computer inside the brain. And the signals received by the electrodes can be wirelessly transmitted to electronic devices.

The design has changed since last year where it had a visible earpiece behind the ear. However, now the entire device sits in your head, as described by Musk as being “like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires. The communication speed will be a massive improvement. Compare it to typing, texting on a phone, and speaking to simply thinking thoughts that can initiate instant communication.
Initially, Neuralink will be "quite expensive," said Musk, but he hopes that down the line it becomes an affordable option for elective surgery.

He even joked that with Neuralink, it could feature the capability to summon your Tesla car with a thought, and play video games. Additionally, he wants the implant to save and replay memories, which would obviously be of great importance to people suffering from dementia. Tesla, SpaceX, and Boring Company founder said that Neuralink got a Breakthrough Device designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and while human trials have not happened yet, it is coming once the proper approvals are in place for safe testing. The first clinical trial on humans will implant the device in paralyzed people suffering from spinal cord injury. Neuralink will then treat a small number of patients to really assess the technology against the design.

It is unquestionably a ground-breaking project, brought to you by Elon Musk, of course. His continued focus on the future without limitations gives us unceasing anticipation and optimism of how the ideas of one guy can reshape tomorrow.

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