Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, founded Neuralink to develop a brain-machine interface designed to solve a variety of brain-related issues. “The initial goal of our technology will be to help people with paralysis to regain independence through the control of computers and mobile devices,” the company states, “Our devices are designed to give people the ability to communicate more easily via text or speech synthesis, to follow their curiosity on the web, or to express their creativity through photography, art, or writing apps.” Long-term, Neuralink aims to utilize the coin-sized brain chip called ‘Link' to treat complex illnesses and even connect humans with Artificial Intelligence (AI). “The Link is a starting point for a new kind of brain interface. As our technology develops, we will be able to increase the channels of communication with the brain, accessing more brain areas and new kinds of neural information. This technology has the potential to treat a wide range of neurological disorders, to restore sensory and movement function, and eventually to expand how we interact with each other, with the world, and with ourselves,” the company stated.
The Link chip features 1,024 tiny electrode threads thinner than a strand of hair that are threaded by a surgical robot machine inside the brain to stimulate neurons. Today, the company released a video where engineers share they are working on the robot machine. “The threads that we insert that contain the electrodes are tiny, like… 50 microns wide, 5 microns thick, 20 millimeters long. So, if you take one of them and sort of toss it into the air it’ll sort of fly off like a piece of hair,” said Ian, Robot Director at Neuralink. “Those tiny little flexible hairs are too small for a human to handle, even like with tweezers, and that’s where the robot comes in,” added Jamie, a Neuralink electrical engineer, video below. The company states that "scaling to hundreds of thousands then millions of patients means that not only must the thread insertion be automated but also the planning and execution of the rest of the surgery. Without doing so, the supply of neurosurgeons quickly runs out." Learn more in the video linked below.
In August last year, Neuralink showcased how the Link chip works on pigs. A pig named Gertrude, had a working 'Link' device implanted into its brain that was actively recording signals from its sensory area in the brain that is linked to the nerves on the snout. To demonstrate how the Link chip works, caregivers would offer Gertrude food, as she smelled and looked for food, a screen displayed a visual array of dots and played a sound whenever the Link detected that Gertrude made contact to something with her snout. To date the company has only tested the technology on animals, the first human trials will be done on an individual with quadriplegia.
If you’ve worked on advanced wearables, phones or robots, those skills are needed @neuralink— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 31, 2021
Musk said they aim to build a robot machine capable of quickly connecting the chip into the brain with minimal intervention and quick recovery, similar like eye Lasik surgery. He announced today that the neuro-tech company is hiring. –“Please consider working at Neuralink! Short-term: solve brain/spine injuries. Long-term: human/AI symbiosis. Latter will be species-level important. Work at either at our Bay Area or Austin locations,” Musk wrote via Twitter. “If you’ve worked on advanced wearables, phones or robots, those skills are needed @neuralink,” he added. You can apply to work at Neuralink via the website: https://neuralink.com/careers/ "No prior experience in neuroscience is necessary—we will teach you everything you need to know," the job applications state.
WORKING ON THE NEURALINK ROBOT
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.