Two years ago, Elon Musk became a CEO of yet another company. The startup he created is called Neuralink which began operating with a hair-raising aim – to find a way to merge the human brain with a computer. While it sounds like yet another Black Mirror episode, a couple of days ago, the tech entrepreneur announced that the technology his highly secretive company has been working on could begin human trials next year.
More info: neuralink.com
Something we could only imagine in a science fiction plot has taken one step closer to becoming a reality.
Neuralink was launched in 2017 and raised $158 million to develop “ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers”.
It only took them 2 years to develop the technology which was introduced on July 16 by Elon Musk and the Neuralink team.
The company created a robot surgeon which drills 8mm holes into a human skull and sews in electrodes with a tiny needle avoiding harming any blood vessels.
The electrodes are called the threads and are smaller in width to a human hair. “The threads are about the same size as a neuron. If you’re going to stick something in your brain, you want it to be tiny — approximately on par with the things that are already there,” Musk said.
The threads will be attached to a small chip which will wirelessly connect to a phone. “The interface to the chip is wireless so you have no wires poking out of your head. It basically Bluetooths to your phone,” the entrepreneur said.
Currently, the company aims to help out people with brain and spinal cord injuries or congenital defects, however, the long-term goal is much more ambitious. “Ultimately, we can do full brain-machine interfaces where we can achieve a sort of symbiosis with AI,” Musk said.
While the company’s research successfully tested the technology on animals, the next big step into making this a reality is to get approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to start clinical trials on humans. If the company succeeds in scoring FDA approval, the trials may start as soon as next year.