Elon Musk's Neuralink aims to implant mind-reading sensors in human brains next year

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

It was back in 2017 that Musk launched Neuralink, but we haven’t heard much from the company since then. At an event at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the Tesla boss revealed that the firm had made huge steps toward the goal of human and machine working in “symbiosis.”

Neuralink has developed flexible threads, thinner than a human hair, which can be injected into the brain to detect neuron activity. It has also built a robot that uses a 24-micron needle to embed them automatically.

Neuralink’s President, Max Hodak, said the threads would be inserted through 8mm holes drilled into a paralyzed human’s skull, and that there are plans to use a laser in future to reduce discomfort.

A custom sensor has also been developed that can be implanted into the body, which amplifies and reads signals and sends them to a receiver. It can only transmit data via a wired connection right now, but the aim is to make it work wirelessly. This will connect to a tiny wearable computer called the Link, which sits behind the ear and contains the battery and other hardware. “It will be controlled through an iPhone app,” Hodak said.

Musk added that the chip is capable of 10,000 electrodes with "read and write" capability, giving it 1,000 times more brain-interfacing electrodes than the leading device used for Parkinson’s patients.

The devices have only been tested on animals so far, including rats and monkeys, but Neuralink hopes to get FDA approval for human clinical trials for as early as next year. If it works as intended, patients could write text messages and emails just by thinking about the words. They could also move a mouse cursor and navigate web pages with their minds alone.

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Hardware Geek

TS Addict
Musk said next year so I expect it to be 5 years before human trials start. Still, if it works as intended, this really would be an amazing advancement. Why fear the skynet when you can be part of it? Instead of welcoming our AI overlords, I can be the AI overlord!

Seriously though, I want to know how they can assure it won't be hacked. Just what we need, chips in our brains that can introduce some type of virus or disrupt the normal function of the brain. The write ability is what worries me the most.
 

treetops

TS Evangelist
Musk said next year so I expect it to be 5 years before human trials start. Still, if it works as intended, this really would be an amazing advancement. Why fear the skynet when you can be part of it? Instead of welcoming our AI overlords, I can be the AI overlord!

Seriously though, I want to know how they can assure it won't be hacked. Just what we need, chips in our brains that can introduce some type of virus or disrupt the normal function of the brain. The write ability is what worries me the most.
There was a pacemaker exploit over a decade ago, while idk if it was ever used. Wireless insta death. I wonder how many people the (insert bad guy here) rubbed out with it before becoming public.
 
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Hardware Geek

TS Addict
There was a pacemaker exploit over a decade ago, while idk if it was ever used. Wireless insta death. I wonder how many people the (insert bad guy here) rubbed out with it before becoming public.
That was exactly what I was thinking about when I wrote my post.
 

Xallisto

TS Booster
Errrr. how about no.

Ask yourself do you trust that this technology wont be misused....... and the answer is a firm no.
 

Hardware Geek

TS Addict
Errrr. how about no.

Ask yourself do you trust that this technology wont be misused....... and the answer is a firm no.
It will be unhackable though...and Teslas will be able to drive themselves in 2 years...and if you believe that, let me tell you about this wonderful work at home opportunity!
 

Steveb8189

TS Booster
This is inevitable but his "10,000 electrodes with "read and write" capability" is just a ludicrous statement - what does it even mean?

This could be great for quadriplegics or ALS by allowing them to actually re-engage with people - via computers. Currently this is limited to eye control which is painfully slow and frustrating. This type of technology could even allow control of motorised wheelchairs etc.

Looking forward to seeing how it progresses
 

Thannos

TS Booster
I'm getting both thought of intrigue and those from episodes of Black Mirror, and I don't know what scares me more.
 

Hardware Geek

TS Addict
I wonder how long it will take before this type of device goes from helping the paralyzed to a requirement for (insert job here), and eventually becomes commonplace. I have no doubt that we will eventually be able to communicate with computers via neural implant. I do doubt that musk will be the one to get us there though.
 

mistyrain

TS Rookie
Really? if the quality is like the Tesla or the speed tunnel ..... no thanks. Not to mention misuse. Or the real idea behind this is control over people without them knowing ...
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
iOT, smart homes, smartphones, smart cars...."for your convenience". All the while, MINING DATA.
Now, they want to READ YOUR THOUGHTS. Oh, we wouldn't do that! Wanna bet!
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
I think he should personally test it by shoving one up his ars! Then give the controls to a monkey so it would be an equal match ..... OK, OK, OK .... a retarded monkey .....
 

Bas Keur

TS Enthusiast
Really? if the quality is like the Tesla or the speed tunnel ..... no thanks. Not to mention misuse. Or the real idea behind this is control over people without them knowing ...
The quality of Tesla bad ? And still getting a 5 star Euro NCAP rating unlike your car.... lol
 
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DaveBG

TS Maniac
iOT, smart homes, smartphones, smart cars...."for your convenience". All the while, MINING DATA.
Now, they want to READ YOUR THOUGHTS. Oh, we wouldn't do that! Wanna bet!
At first no one will want it. Then someone will get it an will become superhuman like because of the fast interaction between himself and the computers/machines around him. Then more people will join until there will be no way but to become AI-connected or others will treat you like a worm.
 
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DaveBG

TS Maniac
I think he should personally test it by shoving one up his ars! Then give the controls to a monkey so it would be an equal match ..... OK, OK, OK .... a retarded monkey .....
Looks like someone have not read the article.
First of all it is not so that others can control you but so that you can control computers and devices like you phone for example.
Second since it is already in working prototype version it is easy to understand that they have already tested it on humans.
Third - seems like for now it is designed to be for people that actually need it - patients with problems. Or until everyone wants to become ai-symbiotic superhuman that is...
 

VersPrime

TS Rookie
I think he should personally test it by shoving one up his ars! Then give the controls to a monkey so it would be an equal match ..... OK, OK, OK .... a retarded monkey .....
Looks like someone have not read the article.
First of all it is not so that others can control you but so that you can control computers and devices like you phone for example.
Second since it is already in working prototype version it is easy to understand that they have already tested it on humans.
Third - seems like for now it is designed to be for people that actually need it - patients with problems. Or until everyone wants to become ai-symbiotic superhuman that is...
It states in the last paragraph only animal testing has been done so far. Human trials will begin after FDA approval "as early as next year" so they still have quite a bit of work before showing it to be feasible in humans. We can train monkeys to perform reasonably complex, coordinated tasks but I can't imagine how you would teach one to reliably *think* about something without doing it as a test for this device.

Security implications aside for now, I am actually more excited about applying both this tech and its surgical insertion process to aid an expanded array of patients. Adapt the implant to act as an input intermediary (taking input, translating it into electrical impulses for output) and insert it with their technique just behind the ear and you potentially have a new generation of cochlear implants (external battery, but processing may prove to be more effective than current models).

Adapt the implant to act purely as a single neuron or neuronal cluster and try it as a nerve replacement, bridging the gap between existing nerve ends where trauma severed the nerve. At best, the implant restores function along that path after an adjustment period for training, at worst it could serve as a road for the nerves to regrow along (assuming peripheral nerves). Restoring function to a severed optic nerve with this approach would be a dramatic improvement, assuming the eye itself is still functional. Of course, the implant would also need to have the appropriate bio-compatible film to avoid immune rejection.

Many more potential opportunities, but those are what come to mind first. The more trans-humanistic goals are still way down the line whereas the potential therapeutic utility to patients in need has widespread, more immediate impact.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
If any CEO were worth putting out a contract on, Elon Musk is the first person who springs to mind.

How about if we plant the electrodes in Musk's head, where they belong. Let him sip his own hemlock, before he inflicts it on anyone else.

It would be interesting to find out which had the greater delusions of grandeur, Musk, or the AI.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
If any CEO were worth putting out a contract on, Elon Musk is the first person who springs to mind.

How about if we plant the electrodes in Musk's head, where they belong. Let him sip his own hemlock, before he inflicts it on anyone else.

It would be interesting to find out which had the greater delusions of grandeur, Musk, or the AI.
IIRC, I think he wants to try it, even though he has publicly stated that AI is something to be feared. :confused:

Musk would probably develop multiple personality disorder. It would be an extension of not being able to believe anything he says, so status quo.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
You do know that talking about "contract" killing is a crime, right?
Actually posing that in the hypothetical, (and conditional),, is light jocularity for a Majong tournament.
It's called conspiracy to solicit murder.
Go read a law book. A person would have to solicit and pay for such an action to rise to the level of conspiracy. So, I would describe it as "observational".
Really low cranky. Instead why don't you volunteer to be the first human subject...
How about if I jump on the suggestion bandwagon? Why don't you stop crapping up my mailbox with your verbal diarrhea.

@lexter Here's an idea, why don't you volunteer to have those electrodes implanted? That'll show me.dat, "you da man". But I'm sure you're working under the illusion that you're the smartest person on the planet already.
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
As for the rest of you, here's something to ponder. One week Musk says he's afraid of AIs. The next week, he wants to implant electrodes in some poor slobs brain, and hook them up to a computer.

So, is Musk

1: A pathological liar

2: A fan of Dr. Frankenstein

3: A manic depressive in a rather intense and prolonged manic episode.

4: A person who simply can't decide which side of his a** to talk out of first

5: The biggest camera w***e since Marilyn Monroe

Or 6: All of the foregoing?
 

GraffixChild

TS Rookie
Another Musk venture brought to you by government subsidies. I'm sure after 10 years and billions of taxpayer dollars the plans will be scrapped with no financial oversight.