Neuralink is Elon Musk’s latest futuristic business venture. The big idea behind the company is a functioning brain-machine interface to upgrade human capabilities and the internet is holding its breath for an update.
At a forthcoming public announcement (a live-stream update on Neuralink’s website at 11pm BST 28 Aug), we’ll see their latest progress. So far, tests have been carried out on rats and monkeys. Musk previously predicted a prototype human implant would be ready by now, which should be exciting news if successful.
So, what do we already know about the latest of the Tesla CEO’s headline-grabbing projects?
Elon Musk, now the fourth richest man in the world, has claimed the technology could “make up for entire lost sections of the brain” caused by strokes or brain injuries.
Musk stated an initial focus is allowing paralysed patients to control computers, smartphones, and possibly prosthetic limbs using the technology. Treating brain disorders is a further ambition.
And if medical benefits alone don’t seem rock’n’roll enough for the CEO of SpaceX, it’s because they’re not. Musk’s ultimate goal with Neuralink is to achieve “superhuman intelligence” that could combine the powers of human and artificial intelligence.
It’s clear human technologies are quickening the rate of climate change. Is now the time we begin to grapple with evolution, too?
So, how does Neuralink work?
Measuring just a few millimetres across, the chip communicates with the brain via thousands of electrodes, distributed across extremely thin threads. These threads would be inserted by a neurosurgical robot capable of inserting 6 threads (192 electrodes) per minute.
Each thread would be 10-40 micrometers in diameter. That’s thinner than the average human hair. According to the company, the electrodes on these threads would be able to detect electrical impulses on the brain.
These threads enter through four holes surgically drilled into the skull. This sounds invasive, but Musk has insisted that it would be as straightforward a procedure as laser eye surgery, not requiring hospitalisation.
What to expect from tonight‘s Neuralink update
In the latest public update, expect to see the device detecting “neurons firing in real-time”, something Musk has described as “The Matrix in the Matrix.”
Rumours of human trials are rife. But even if the rumours are true, Neuralink devices won’t be available for public use anytime soon.
If anyone can see inside the Matrix, it’s Elon Musk. Watch the Neuralink live stream update tonight and find out how close the future really is.