Featured Image Source: Neuralink
Elon Musk is mostly known for being hell-bent on taking the first astronauts to Mars. He founded SpaceX to transform humans into a multi-planet species capable of conducting frequent flights between Earth and the Red Planet. He also runs Tesla, a technology company that develops electric vehicles capable of driving itself, and solar power equipment -to accelerate the transition to renewable energy for a cleaner future on Earth. Those two companies are already working on ambitious goals, perhaps his greatest ambition is achieving connecting the human brain to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Like cyborgs in science fiction movies, Musk envisions a future where humans can be as ‘smart’ and efficient as machines, humans capable of solving many issues via a brain-chip. He founded Neuralink in 2016 with the purpose to develop a brain-machine interface that would solve many issues, including returning limb mobility to paralyzed individuals, curing blindness and memory loss, treating depression and addiction, among other conditions. Creating a device capable of solving human’s physical and mental issues would completely revolutionize the medical industry.
Ultimately, his team aims to achieve ‘symbiosis’ with Artificial Intelligence. Neuralink could add a third layer of digital superintelligence in the human brain. Musk believes its important to create a device that can give humans an equal advantage over AI, 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.” This would guide humanity towards a new evolution phase.
On July 17, Musk announced he is hiring at Neuralink – “If you’ve solved hard problems with phones / wearables (sealing, signal processing, inductive charging, power mgmt [management], etc), please consider working at email@example.com,” he wrote via Twitter, “Solving high-volume, high-reliability, low-cost production problems is especially valued.”
Solving high-volume, high-reliability, low-cost production problems is especially valued— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2020
According to a company presentation conducted in 2019, Neuralink will be a small brain-chip called “N1” it is a square measuring four by four millimeters and features 1,024 electrodes; this had not been achieved before by others in the industry. For perspective, the existing brain interfaces by other companies for Parkinson patients currently only have 10 electrodes.
The company said it plans to implant four of their N1 chips inside the person's skull, in the brain's cortex. 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 prosthetics, cell phone, any computer system or machine – with their brain.
The company is seeking to hire new engineers to help develop some aspects of the Neuralink device, like “signal processing” and “inductive charging” which suggests that the company is already working on wireless connection methods. Neuralink will host a presentation to discuss its brain-chip development progress on August 28. The presentation is expected to reveal new details about the technology and offer details about when the first human trials will initiate. Musk had previously mentioned the first human to have a Neuralink brain-chip implanted will be someone with quadriplegia. The company hopes to help the individual operate a computer and/or prosthetics.