Featured Image Source: Joe Rogan via Youtube.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, founded Neuralink – a company that is developing a brain-machine interface that could one day restore eyesight, limb functionality, and memory loss, via a brain chip implant. During a podcast interview with Joe Rogan, he shared some details about Neuralink. According to Musk, Neuralink could add a third layer of digital superintelligence to the human brain. Their ultimate goal is to connect humans with Artificial Intelligence (AI). “We are already a cyborg to some degree,” Musk told Rogan:
“You have your phone, laptops, and devices. I mean today, if you don't bring your phone along, it is like you have missing limb syndrome. We are already partly a cyborg.”
Since 2016, the company has been developing ultra-thin electrodes that are inserted into the brain to stimulate neurons, nerve cells. Neuralink's current focus is treating paralyzed patients with quadriplegia due to C1-C4 spinal cord injury. During the recent podcast, Rogan asked how Neuralink would be implanted in the human brain. Musk replied:
“We would basically take out a chunk of your skill and put the Neuralink device in there... You insert the electrode threads very carefully in the brain and then you stitch it. It would interface anywhere in the brain and it could restore your eyesight and limb functionalities."
Musk shared the hole drilled would be about one inch in diameter, “…stitch it up, and you wouldn’t even know that somebody as it.”
According to a 2019 presentation, the company plans to implant four of their N1 chips (pictured above) 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 cell phone or any computer system, including prosthetics, with their brain.
Last year, Musk shared the chip has been successfully implanted and tested on a monkey and mice. The work with monkeys was done in conjunction with the University of California, "The results have been very positive." In 2019, 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 stated.
Musk told Rogan on Thursday, Neuralink could potentially give humans the capability to communicate without words one day, and predicted it could happen - “If the development continues to accelerate…then, maybe …5 to 10 years. That’s the best case scenario…10 years, more like it.”
Musk claims the Neuralink device will potentially restore eyesight “even if you lost your optic nerve,” and return hearing sense to deaf individuals. “If you have severe epilepsy, it could detect it in real-time and stop it from occurring. […] There is a whole list of injuries — for example, if a person has a stroke, that could also be fixed if you lose muscle control.” Adding that if you have Alzheimer, Neuralink will be able to help you with restoring memory.
"It could, in principle, fix anything that's wrong with the brain."
"There's still a lot of work to do," he said. “We’re not testing people yet, but I think it won’t be too long. We may be able to implant a Neuralink in less than a year in a person I think.”
Watch the Neuralink conversation between Elon Musk and Joe Rogan below!
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.