Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company, Neuralink, is gearing up to implant a chip into a human brain — and it could be ready within the year.
It follows a viral video of a monkey fitted with the brain tech, using only its mind to play Pong. Neuralink is now eyeing up a leap to human trials, signaling either a boundary-smashing step towards artificial intelligence being implanted into human minds, or perhaps a hair-raising glimpse behind the curtain of possibility.
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Launched in 2016, Neuralink is another string to the Space X billionaire’s extensive bow of businesses, focused on creating devices that can be embedded into the human mind.
There’s much mystery about how the technology actually works, with Yahoo News reporting that the startup is working on “flexible threads, thinner than human hair, designed to be implanted into the brain to read brain activity.”
Hi @elonmusk, I've been thinking for a long time how to write this to you - but I'll keep it very simply:I was in a car accident 20 years ago and have been paralyzed from the shoulders ever since. I'm always available for clinical studies at @Neuralink.Please get in touch!January 31, 2021
Either way, it’s pretty damn cool. It could also arrive sooner than expected, with Musk taking to Twitter to fan the flames of anticipation by responding to a man left paralyzed in an accident, who asked when the brain implants could become available to humans.
Musk responded: “Neuralink is working super hard to ensure implant safety & is in close communication with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). If things go well, we might be able to do initial human trials later this year.”
Clearly, Musk's comments should be taken with a sizable pinch of salt; however, it teases many exciting avenues of what the technology could accomplish. In the past, Musk has name-checked Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as two such neurological disorders that could benefit from Neuralink’s work.
The Oxford Student last year reported that Neuralink delivers a “sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence” that can significantly preserve and enhance our brains. Ultimately, the technology could see humans merge with artificial intelligence.
But it's still very early days and it's always a good idea to be cognizant of Mr. Musk and his Twitter outpours, where it's sometimes difficult to separate fact from hype, and the timelines of ambitious projects that need to jump through several hoops before clearance can happen.