What is Neuralink?
Elon Musk has a plan to create a device called Neuralink, a brain-computer interface that will read people’s thoughts. This theory isn’t new: Scientists have been exploring the concept for decades, but Musk has taken it one step further by making it a company reality. Neuralink is designed to be implanted in your skull, where it will connect to your neurons via ultra-fine wires. The brain-computer interface, known as the “Link,” processes neural signals and sends them to computers outside of your head. Musk says its purpose is to help treat paralysis and even allow for consensual telepathy. But how does the Link work and could it soon become a reality?
Our Brain Functions
To understand how the Link works, we need to take a crash course in Neuroscience. Our brains are composed of billions of neurons, which serve as building blocks of electrical and chemical signals. These electrical signals flow between neurons and help to control activities like speech and movement. Whenever we make a motion, like move a hand, it produces a spike of electrical energy in the part of the brain that’s controlling that action. This is where Neurolink steps in – they believe these networks of neurons function like electrical wiring, so it should be possible to connect them to actual wires and share data. In other words, this brain-computer interface is similar to a USB drive that you plug into a computer, but much more complex.
The Link in Action
To demonstrate how the Link works, Neuralink has been conducting experiments on pigs and monkeys. In 2020, they presented their findings with a pig called Gertrude at an event. Gertrude had been living with the Link implanted in her head for two months, and the company showed her real-time neural activity. They used the neural signals from Gertrude’s snout to predict the movement of her limbs, demonstrating that the Link was helping to record her intended motions.
Neuralink then took a deeper dive into its experimentation in 2021, this time with a monkey. The monkey, called Pager, had chips connected to the brain region that controls his hand and arm muscles. When Pager moved a joystick, the Link recorded his thought patterns in real-time and the system was eventually able to decode his movements. Neuralink removed the joystick for this experiment and Pager was still able to control the cursor on the screen using just his thoughts.
What Does the Future Hold?
Neuralink is exploring a world of possibilities, such as helping paralyzed people control computers with their brains or aiding those with mobility issues. In the future, according to Musk, Neuralink could even give people the power to upload memories and dreams, and to replay them. But the technology has met its share of criticism, including claims of animal cruelty and the lack of a ready-to-market product.
We won’t have to wait much longer to see what Elon Musk’s team has been working on; Neuralink plans to release a detailed show-and-tell in November of 2022. No matter what the future holds, one thing is for sure – the possibilities of a brain-computer interface are fascinating.
Elon Musk and his company Neuralink have been pioneering the concept of a brain-computer interface for many years. Through experiments with animals featuring an implant known as the Link, Neuralink has created a technology that records brain signals and connects them to a computer, allowing a paralyzed individual to control a cursor without a joystick. Although there is still much to be explored, the potential uses of this brain-computer interface are exciting, and we will soon find out more in 2022.