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How Neuralink ‘Merging Man And Machine’ Can Change The Future?

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You are on vacation in a small village in France, but don’t speak a word of French. Imagine if you could download a program into your brain and converse with locals. And what if could later remember that trip in perfect detail. After solar-powered homes and cars along with SpaceX ventures, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has another visionary but outlandish plan for humanity; Neuralink.

“In the future, you will be able to save and replay memories. I mean, this is sounding increasingly like a Black Mirror episode.”

Changing Humanity Forever?


Elon Musk says you will be able to store your memories as a backup and download them into a robot body. It sounds like a science-fiction, but Neuralink believes it could make that happen one day with a chip. Brain-Machine Interface or BMI Chip, a device that connects your brain to a computer. But before chasing these superhuman goals, Neuralink is focused on one thing; ending human suffering.

All of our senses sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste are electrical signals sent by neurons to our brain. But sometimes the signals are not wired correctly. Neuralink wants to re-wire the circuit so that the paralyzed walk, the blind see, the deaf hear as well as treat other neurological disorders such as depression, insomnia, Alzheimer’s.

The battery lasts a full day and can be charged inductively as you sleep, possibly by wearing a nightcap, according to musk. The prototype is different from the 2019’s, that one required an external earpiece whereas the latest version involves just the chip sitting in the skull.

Uncompromised Robust Tech

Neuralink“It’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires.”

Neuralink’s wires or threads are 10 times thinner than human hairs and represent electrodes. The electrodes figure out ‘what’s happening in the brain’ by reading the signals sent by the neurons and then stimulating as many neurons as possible. This technology is not new but what makes Neuralink drastically different from other neural interfaces is that it will insert significantly more electrodes to stimulate neurons on a scale never seen before. As the comparison ‘Utah Array’ is considered one of the best BMIs out there right now and has been used to study conditions like epilepsy. It has around 100 electrode channels. For as the current version of Neuralink has more than 1000 electrode channels and possibly much more in the future.

Also, the threads are thinner and more flexible, greatly reducing the risk of piercing blood vessels and potentially causing catastrophic damage. But that doesn’t mean humans are capable of the precision required for surgery. At the eventual cost of a few thousand dollars to the patient, surgical robots could one day do the entire operation in under an hour leaving the chip relatively concealed.

Brain Implant Demonstration


“All you could see afterward is a tiny scar. And if it’s under your hair, you can’t see it at all. In fact, I could have Neuralink right now and you wouldn’t know. Maybe I do.”

That’s unlikely since human trials haven’t begun but they have tested on animals. One of the demonstrations has been done on a guinea pig named “Dorothy”. Dorothy used to have the device but no longer and she appears to act normal just like “Joyce” (another pig without the chip). Then there’s “Gertrude”, the third one who had an implant for two months. The researchers were reading her brain activities and beeps; that are the signals from the area of her brain linked to her snout. So when she ate or sniffed the straw, the activity showed up on the graph. The implant has also helped the team predict the limb movements of a pig on a treadmill with what they described as a high degree of accuracy. But it still remains to be seen how people will respond to it.

Neuralink still has to get a stamp of approval from the US Food & Drug Administration to start human trials gear toward helping those with spinal cord injuries controlled by the computer.

“We’ll make this as safe as possible. Just as with Tesla, while it is legally possible to ship a one-star car, the only cars we make are five stars. We actually maximize safety and we’ll take the same approach here at Neuralink.”

Neuralink Careers


There is a science of chaos at the young company. Former employees told Stat, an American health-oriented news website that rushed timelines were often clashing with science’s slow pace. Musk said last year, “We hope the trials could begin by the end of 2020”, which seems highly unlikely. And then there are the privacy issues that scientists have been urging governments to address including what data should be collected and how it will be kept safe. So it will likely be a long time before this comes a reality.

However, Neuralink has plans to expand rapidly. At its headquarter Fremont, California, it has a massive space but only 100 employees. In a few years, Neuralink careers expect to go to 10,000 employees which would be more than the number of staff currently at SpaceX. Although the scientists and engineers will continue to work toward curing brain disorders, that’s not the main reason musk created Neuralink.

Human to Human (and to Machine) Telepathy


Musk has repeatedly spoken of the fear that humans will be overtaken by artificial intelligence. Based on the hypothesis that if AI becomes super-intelligent, it could be difficult or impossible for humans to control and potentially result in our extinction. So his solution is to sync up the human brain with AI and create a symbiotic relationship.

Symbiosis refers to the art of living together. We see this in nature and the mutually beneficial relationship between the sea anemone and clownfish. For example, the anemone provides shelter for the fish while the fish provides nutrients and protects it from other predators.

In the same way, humans and AI can grow together. Although Musk has many ambitious projects on a go, Neuralink seems different than the others. SpaceX wants to build a city on mars changing where we live. The Boring Company is building underground tunnels changing how we travel. But Neuralink changing us, making us in many ways superhuman.

“The future’s gonna be weird.” And that may be an understatement.

Rakesh K. Mahto
Content Writer

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