Elon Musk Revealed Plans for Brain-Machine Interface Technology Neuralink

A monkey has successfully used the technology to control a computer

Elon Musk
Musk revealed new details about the secretive project
Charley Gallay/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / July 17, 2019 10:27 am

Elon Musk unveiled new developments underway at Neuralink, the company developing brain-machine interface technology. The secretive project is developing the technology with the goal of implanting devices in paralyzed humans to allow them to control phones or computers.

Musk revealed new updates to the projects during a presentation streamed live from Neuralink’s website Tuesday night, The Verge reported. Neuralink’s new advances include the use of thin, flexible threads which will cause less damage to the brain and transmit a higher volume of data than the materials used in existing brain-machine interfaces. Considerably thinner than a human hair, the threads will be automatically embedded by a newly announced neurosurgical robot capable of inserting six threads per minute.

During a Q&A at the end of the presentation, Musk also revealed that the technology has been successfully used to allow a monkey to control a computer with its brain.

Musk said he hopes “to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence” through Neuralink. “It’s not going to be suddenly Neuralink will have this neural lace and start taking over people’s brains,” he said. Rather, Neuralink aims to provide technology that allows for a “merging with AI.”

Neuralink isn’t the first technology of its kind. The first person to receive a brain implant that allowed computer control was Matthew Nagel in 2006. Nagel used the technology to play Pong using only his mind.

“Neuralink didn’t come out of nowhere, there’s a long history of academic research here,” said Neuralink president Max Hodak at the presentation on Tuesday. “We’re, in the greatest sense, building on the shoulders of giants.”

The technology is still being tested on animals for the time being, but Neuralink ultimately hopes to provide “high bandwidth” brain connection for humans that would allow for more precise outcomes than previous brain-machine interfaces.

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