The Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, founded Neuralink, a company that is developing a brain-machine interface that could one day restore a variety of brain-related issues, including restoring eyesight and limb functionality, solve memory loss, even cure depression via a brain chip implant. Musk initially aims to focus on the medical aspect of the neural interface, like solving mobility issues with paralyzed individuals. Ultimately, his team aims to achieve ‘symbiosis’ with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Progress update August 28— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2020
On Thursday, Musk announced Neuralink will host a presentation on August 28 to discuss its brain-chip development progress, “If you can’t beat em, join em. Neuralink mission statement,” he wrote via Twitter, in reference to AI. He believes AI will outsmart the human species and that the only way to ‘beat them’ is if humans achieve a brain-computer connection to have the same level of intelligence.
It may sound crazy, like something out of a science fiction movie but Neuralink scientists, engineers, and doctors are working on the development of this device as you read – “AI symbiosis while u wait,” Musk tweeted July 9.
AI symbiosis while u wait— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2020
According to Musk, Neuralink could add a third layer of digital superintelligence in the human brain to avoid AI machine enslavement. He says a “human-AI symbiote” would help “democratize” AI, and that “we don’t have to worry about some evil dictator AI because we are the AI collectively.” Neuralink aims to achieve human connection with AI before the singularity event “to minimize the existential risk for humanity and consciousness as we know it.” He explained the brain has two systems: The first layer is the limbic system which drives impulses. The second layer is the cortex system that tries to control the limbic system by acting as an intelligence layer. The third layer can be Neuralink, sitting on top of those two layers to work together. “Perhaps there can be a tertiary layer where digital superintelligence lies. That will be vastly more intelligent than the cortex but still co-exist peacefully and in a benign manner with the cortex and limbic system,” he said earlier this year.
During Neuralink’s first presentation in July 2019, Musk, alongside medical engineers, described a very small chip that could enable a paralyzed individual to control a smartphone or computer with their mind. The chip is called “N1” it is a square measuring 4 by 4 millimeters and features 1,024 electrodes. The company said this had not been achieved before. For perspective, the existing brain interfaces by other companies for Parkinson patients currently only have 10 electrodes.
All Images Source: Neuralink
In 2019, the company said it plans to implant four of their N1 chips in the brain's cortex, as pictured above. One chip by the somatic sensory cortex and three chips by the motor areas. These chips have very small thread wires, as thin as a human hair, that will be threaded into the brain with machine's laser precision, where they can stimulate the neurons. The chips will also be wired to an inductive coil that connects to a battery behind one ear to power the system. The final version of the Neuralink device will be accessed wirelessly, via a Bluetooth connection. Enabling the user to control their cell phone or any computer system, including prosthetics, with their brain.
No easy way to answer this in a tweet, but helping with dire brain injuries is our first priority. Details Aug 28.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2020
A Twitter user asked Musk this week how will the company determine eligibility for the first human trials. He responded – “No easy way to answer this in a tweet, but helping with dire brain injuries is our first priority. Details August 28.” Someone else asked him if Neuralink will be capable of curing depression and addiction, “For sure. This is both great & terrifying. Everything we’ve ever sensed or thought has been electrical signals. The early universe was just a soup of quarks & leptons. How did a very small piece of the Universe start to think of itself as sentient?” Musk wrote.
Next month’s Neuralink update presentation is certainly something to look forward to watching.
For sure. This is both great & terrifying. Everything we’ve ever sensed or thought has been electrical signals. The early universe was just a soup of quarks & leptons. How did a very small piece of the Universe start to think of itself as sentient?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2020
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.