Elon Musk’s Neuralink wants to insert sensors in human brains
Neuralink, co-founded by Elon Musk in 2016, is the brain-machine interface start-up that is focused on helping people with brain disorders. It is ultimately aimed at connecting “humans and computers” to “understand and treat brain disorders, preserve and enhance one’s own brain, and create a well-aligned future”.
Shedding more light on Neuralink’s progress at an event in San Francisco on Tuesday, Musk said it has plans to insert highly flexible brain reading “threads” into the brain that would link a human brain directly to a computer to detect the activity of neurons.
According to Musk, the technology will help “solve brain disorders of all kinds” and let humans merge with artificial intelligence (AI).
The chip called “N1 sensor” sits outside the head and will wirelessly receive information from “threads” embedded in the brain.
Controlled by an iPhone app, the chip could support “as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads” where each “thread” is extremely thin i.e. 4 to 6 ?m in width, smaller in diameter than a human hair. The flexible brain reading threads will carry a high-volume data and amplify signals from the brain to the computer.
The chip will help “preserve and enhance your own brain” and “ultimately achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” added Musk.
Neuralink says that it has also developed a robot to insert those threads in the brain by using a laser beam to pierce the skull.
According to a research paper released by Neuralink, the robots under the direction of a neurosurgeon, have conducted at least 19 surgeries on animals and successfully placed the “threads” 87 percent of the times.
“I think this is going to be important at a civilization-wide scale. Even under a benign AI, we will be left behind. With a high bandwidth brain-machine interface, we will have the option to go along for the ride,” Musk said.
“This has the potential to solve several brain-related diseases. The idea is to understand and treat brain disorders, preserve and enhance your own brain and create a well-aligned future.”
Musk said that long-term goal is to find a way to “achieve a sort of symbiosis with AI but that is not a mandatory thing. This is something you can choose to have if you want.
“With a high-bandwidth brain-machine interface, I think we can actually help scores of patients.”
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The company is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to start human clinical trials in order to put their studies to the test as soon as next year.
“It will take a long time, and you’ll see it coming,” Musk said. He said in the future there could be an “app store” for different programs that could tap the technology.