Neuralink; Elon Musk's newest venture enters the world of AI

Elon Musk will reveal new details about his brain-computer interface startup Neuralink next month. The technology entrepreneur, who also heads up electric car company Tesla and space firm SpaceX, tweeted on last month that the venture’s core aim is to permit the human brain to compete with AI. “If you can’t beat em, join em- Neuralink’s mission statement,” he tweeted, apparently concerning the competition with AI. “Progress update August 28."

Neuralink, which was founded in 2016, is Musk's neural technology company that's developing an implant designed to interface directly with the human brain. The initial goal of the implant, says Musk, is to use it as a way to treat brain injury and trauma. "There's still plenty of labour to try and do," Musk said when speaking with Joe Rogan in his show The Joe Rogan Experience. "So after I say, you know, we've probably got a trial at putting it into a person, you know, within a year. I think that's exactly what I mean, I believe we've got an opportunity of putting input in one end, having them be healthy, and restoring some functionality that they've lost." The chip could potentially be accustomed to restore eyesight, hearing, and limb movement additionally to addressing diseases that affect the brain, Musk claims.


Joe Rogan and Elon Musk talking about Neuralink. Credit: JRE Clips YouTube channel


The device would be implanted directly into the skull to enable electrode threads to interface with certain areas of the brain, in line with Musk. During a presentation last year, Mr Musk said that first-generation devices would be accustomed to treat brain diseases like Parkinson’s, before allowing people to "ultimately achieve a form of symbiosis with AI." A white paper describing the technology detailed how a small chip connects to the brain through thousands of "flexible electrode threads", each of them thinner than an individual's hair. A version of the system has already been tested on mice and monkeys and human trials were set to begin this year, though no details are publicly disclosed. Mr Musk has frequently stated his belief that the development of powerful AI poses one among the strongest existential threats to humanity. He has warned that within following few decades humanity could fall so far behind AI that machines will view humans in the same way that humans currently view house pets. The development of Neuralink's technology is geared toward addressing this, allowing the computing power of the human brain to be vastly increased. Earlier this year, Mr Musk said Neuralink’s technology would render human language obsolete within 5 to 10 years.

Thumbnail credit: Chris Carlson/AP