Neuralink is a company that aims to cure nearly every neurological condition and provide superhuman capabilities. Ultimately, it has the potential to revolutionize society as we know it.
So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
What is Neuralink?
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk in 2016 that develops brain-computer interfaces. The current goal is to create devices that can help people with neurological conditions.
Simply put, it works by surgically implanting a brain chip within the skull. This device can read the electrical activity of the brain, known as neural signals, and convert them into commands that can be understood by a computer.
These commands can then be used to control a variety of devices, such as a computer cursor or even prosthetic limbs.
With their eventual goal of enhancing human cognitive abilities leading to transhumanism, the company is certainly ambitious. Elon was quoted as saying he wanted “symbiosis with artificial intelligence”. Yes, this does sound like something straight out of Deus Ex.
Located in Fremont California, Neuralink has made significant strides in the past few years. Largely, due to its over $150 million in funding and a team of expert scientists.
The technology behind Neuralink
In 2019, Neuralink launched its first prototype. An ultrathin chip composed of a biocompatible material known as a polyimide about the size of a coin.
Each chip houses over 3000 electrodes each around 1/20th of the thickness of a strand of hair. Essentially, these electrodes are used to detect the neuron’s electrical signal.
To increase precision and avoid tissue damage this chip is surgically inserted by robots. These robots are equipped with computer vision and lasers that drill holes that are just a few millimeters wide in the skull and the chip sits flush with the skull.
To add to this, each user pairs it with a wearable device known as a link that contains both the software and the battery. Therefore, every time you want to change or update your device you simply just remove it.
But this rapid advancement doesn’t stop there. Fast forward to 2021 and the company displayed its impressive progress with a monkey playing a simple video game version of ping pong with its mind. All thanks to the Neuralink brain chip.
Ultimately, the end goal of Neuralink is to enhance human cognitive abilities in all aspects by developing devices that can improve memory, focus, and other cognitive functions.
This includes helping people with memory loss or dementia, as well as devices that could potentially boost human intelligence or creativity.
In July 2020, Neuralink obtained an FDA breakthrough device designation which allows human testing under extremely controlled conditions.
The challenges that Neuralink faces
Despite the significant progress made by Neuralink, there are still many challenges that need to be overcome before these devices can be used on a widespread basis.
One of the main challenges is ensuring that the devices are safe and effective for long-term use. As you may have guessed it has significant regulation hurdles to overcome which slows down development considerably.
Not to mention, extensive testing is required which will take years.
There is also significant controversy around animal testing. All in all 15 monkeys have died as a result of Neuralink experiments. As a result, the company came under investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2022.
There are also some major ethical concerns that the future holds for this technology, such as the potential for these devices to be used to enhance human abilities beyond what is considered normal or desirable.
At what point do we become more machine than human, is this okay? What about the potential for hacking someone’s brain? these are all questions we will have to answer.
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But currently, Neuralink represents an exciting new field with the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with technology and improve the lives of people with neurological conditions. I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading it.
Want to learn about the ethical concerns of AI? Click here to read my previous article.