Neuralink, which is one among the many startups founded by Elon Musk, develops implantable brain-machine interfaces with the prime objective being to help to cure neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries. This step forward is expected to ultimately fuse humankind with Artificial Intelligence (AI). During trials, a chip was implanted into the brain of a monkey and the simian was able to play video games with its mind. However, no mention was made regarding whether the device is currently ‘mature enough’ for human users, and no confirmation that the technology is functioning as intended or better. Miniature devices such as those designed to electronically stimulate nerves and brain areas to treat hearing loss and Parkinson’s disease have been implanted in humans for decades, and this new development is simply a way forward in terms of technological evolution.
Elon Musk confirmed during a talk on Clubhouse that the ‘monkey is not unhappy, and it is not possible to see where the neural implant was put in’. Along with talks and insights about AI, colonies on Mars, space travel, crypto, and Coronavirus vaccines, Musk mentioned that Neuralink, Corp. is focusing on figuring out if it can implant computer chips in the brains of monkeys and can get them to play ‘mind-Pong’ among themselves. San Francisco-headquartered, Neuralink, has a dedicated team of 100 members who are focusing on development of an implementable interface that connects brain and computer. Neuralink Corp. claimed that before developing the implantable chip for wiring up the monkey, it had developed and implanted coin-size wireless sensors into the brains of two pigs. Neuralink aims to use this brain-linking technology to treat persons with brain and spinal injuries in order to resume lost capacity. Neuralink chips can be implanted in quadriplegics so that they can use a computer, control a mouse, or operate a mobile phone, or other electronic devices just by thinking.
Another goal is to increase the rate of flow of information from human brain to computer or machine. Musk stated that AI is only getting smarter and along with Neuralink’s advanced technology could result in various ground-breaking advancements. He also said that people are already becoming part of advanced technology and calls them cyborgs as they are increasingly inclined towards mobile phones, computers, and applications, and have a tertiary digital layer. With the help of the neural interface, the bandwidth between the human cortex and digital tertiary layers can be enhanced by many orders of magnitude. The cortex is an important part of the human brain that plays a key role in perceptual awareness, memory, attention, thought, consciousness, and language. The digital tertiary layer, as referred to by Musk, could be anything digital – from an individual’s iPhone to Twitter account, etc.
According to Musk, the brain-linking technology can offer human beings ability to talk in the mind and share concepts to each other using telepathy. Acknowledging that the company is delving into Sci-Fi territory, he mentioned that the human brain could be saved and could exist in a saved state after human beings die, and could then be implanted into another human being or robot. Furthermore, to illustrate pace of progress with regards to AI, the entrepreneur mentioned the breakthroughs made at the research department such as OpenAI, which was co-founded with DeepMind – a London-based A.I. lab acquired by Musk in 2014. In August, Neuralink, Corp., conducted a live demonstration of its ground-breaking technology that was implanted in three pigs to show the audience real-time neural signals sent from one of the pigs, named Gertrude. Musk used Clubhouse app to talk to people, which was livestreamed on Youtube, and used this platform to reach out and encourage engineers to apply for jobs at Neuralink. Neuralink also mentioned that it will most probably be releasing a few videos to demonstrate the company’s progress in the coming month.