The self-made billionaire Elon Musk, in his startup ‘Neuralink’, unveils of achieving a brain chip that can be implanted to the skull, and inscribe the brain activities in a computer. The pronouncement was done so in Gertrude, the pig and was live-streamed last Friday (28/08/2020). Musk claimed that pig’s brain activity is being recorded in a computer and displayed on a screen. Well, before that Neuralink from its advent is discussed here.
Neuralink, an American neurotechnology firm founded by Elon Musk in 2016, is ambitious in implanting brain-machine interfaces in humans, claiming to have a neuro-related health benefits and conveniences. The company was started in 2016, but revealed out in March 2017.
The brain chip implanter firm, raises $158 Million funds with $100 Million from its founder Musk itself. Neuralink hired several neuroscientists from various universities around the globe and is now operating with close to 100 employees (as of 08/2020).
What Neuralink does?
Neuralink, annexes the brain with a computer, aiming to have controls with electronic devices and gadgets just by a ‘thought’ in your brain.
Neuralink works by implanting flexible electrodes threads on parts of the brain and sends information of your brain parts to a recognizable device, on occasion of stimulation of that brain part. The system includes as much as 3072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads (4-6µm), which is thinner than a human hair. These diffused electrodes, since not being as small as a neuron, transmits information at the onset of stimulation of group of neurons annexed with it.
The implantation of the chip, involves coin-sized hole on the human skull and embedding the electrode on the brain, as a whole carried out by robotic apparatus.
Testing with Rat & Monkey
Neuralink in 2019, announced that it was working on a sewing-machine like device, implanting electrodes with very thin threads into the brain and this system accomplished reading of information from a lab rat via 1500 electrodes successfully.
Neuralink in July of the same year, asserted that brain chip annexed with a monkey’s skull, enabled the monkey to control a computer-mouse, remotely.
The instances stated above, though it just rolls out the happenings, fails to give detailed scientific proofs behind the ideology. Neuroscientists and neurologists appealed for a scientific approach to verify the interface for the monkey, but still Neuralink doesn’t have an update on this.
Unveiling the brain-chip in a Pig
Recently, Musk showed off Gertrude, “We have a healthy and happy pig, initially shy but obviously high energy and, you know, kind of loving life, and she’s had the implant for two months”.
“It’s just a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires”, Musk utters of the chip. Gertrude has been implanted with 1024 electrodes, link – v 0.9.
Neuralink affirmed that it has recorded signals of Gertrude, the pig’s brain, in a computer screen, after encountering a surgery implanting a small computer-chip on its brain. The screen displayed blue waves, sounding beeps, which Musk claims as the brain activity of Gertrude, apparently not explaining about scientific proofs of the matter. The neuro chip clears out the FDA Breakthrough Device designation in July, a program that can help expedite the regulatory process for products. It means that the company has approval to develop the product further, including its testing on humans.
Revealing another pig, Dorothy, Musk says that it had been implanted with the chip and removed off and it is healthy and undistinguishable from others; illustrating that the chip is wearable and removable, having no down-shot aftermaths.
It also claims to put off neurological disabilities and allows paralyzed people to manipulate a computer mouse. Musk also added that the chip was capable of tasking, say for example, playing music, having control over your smartphone and so on. This brain chip, though first obliged a visible device behind the ear, it doesn’t need so now.
Neuroscience Experts say that while Neuralink’s mission to read and stimulate brain activity in humans is feasible, the company’s timeline appears overly ambitious.
There had been occurrences of binding the neuron activity with a device. Neuroscientists for instance, conducted brain implant on humans having bodily disfunctions like spinal cord injuries and neurological conditions, to manipulate and control the robotic limbs and small devices like computer mouse or keyboard and attained so. Well, they were not able to have control on huge devices, as Neuralink claimed of summoning a Tesla.
“Everyone in the field would be astounded if Neuralink elucidates data from a device implanted on a human brain”, tells a neuroscience researcher.
“It has chances of competing human intelligence with artificial intelligence, which is ‘an existential threat’. While Neuralink have to take a long tough journey in enabling it out to humans to be preferable and reliable” says Musk.
“This is obviously sounding increasingly like a Black Mirror episode,” Musk said at one point during the event as he responded affirmatively to a question about whether the company’s implant could eventually be used to save and replay memories.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuralink https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/aug/28/neuralink-elon-musk-pig-computer-implant