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With every passing day, Elon Musk becomes more and more, well, Elon Musk.
And today, Musk’s Neuralink company - developed to facilitate data transmission between humans and computers - announced a major milestone: it can record the brain activity of a rat with thousands of tiny electrodes implanted to the rat’s neurons and synapsis.
The next step is for the company to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to start clinical trials on humans.
The goal would be for Neuralink to drill four 8mm holes into paralyzed patients’ skulls, before inserting implants through the holes that would allow the people to control smartphones and computers with just their brains.
“A lot of people have written this off like it’s impossible,” President Max Hodak said.
“There will be great things to come in this field in the next decade, and they should take it seriously.”
The company is currently on ‘thread’-based technology, which can be implanted into human brains with a much smaller impact than other brain-computer technology. A robot would use a sewing machine-type process to embed the threads within the brain where it will read and process data.
Speaking this week, Musk said the technology is about finding a way to “achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence”.
“This is not a mandatory thing. It is a thing you can choose to have if you want. This is something that I think will be really important on a civilization-level scale.”
However, Musk admitted that the technology is far from complete, telling the audience at a Neuralink research event that the presentation was more of a recruitment drive.
“The main reason for doing this presentation is recruiting, he said, asking for those keen to develop the technology to join Neuralink.
And, he added, Neuralink doesn’t want to take over people’s brains.
“It’s not going to be suddenly Neuralink will have this neural lace and start taking over people’s brains,” Musk said.
Twitter has a field day over Neuralink announcement
Twitter users had mixed thoughts on the news.
“Definitely gonna get my brain drilled by the guy whose plan to save the cave kids was “cram them in a Pringles tube”,” popular account pixelatedboat Tweeted.
“Excited to see the weird sycophant who allows Elon Musk to trepan his skull and put a computer in there,” added another.
But others were more concerned over the technology.
“As someone who sold medical devices for brain surgery, Musk's Neuralink presentation isn't even at the pitch to VCs stage of medical devices. Let alone presenting to the public. Elon Musk is dangerous and reckless with human lives.”
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