ELON MUSK says a lot of things, but it turns out he was pretty serious about bringing a brain-computer interface, dubbed a 'neural lace', into reality, as his Neuralink company reckons it could be popping sensors in human bonces next year.
To recap, Neuralink is a startup set up by Musk to explore how brains and computer could interact; it all sounded like Musk was getting a bit too into cyberpunk-esque sci-fi, as not much was heard from the company for a while.
However, Bloomberg reports that Neuralink has claimed it has a "sewing machine-like" robots that will be able to implant threads into a human brain designed to act as sensors to pick up information from the grey matter and pipe it to a 4x4mm receiver chip embedded in the surface of the skull.
Needles are used to implant the threads, and can apparently do so in a fashion that avoids blood vessels on the brain's surface, which is handy as no one would want to go with the ambitions to control a computer with their brains only to come out with odd memories about lusty dinner ladies.
However, the sewing technique still requires holes to be drilled into the skull, though Neuralink hopes to use lasers to avoid such an invasive procedure that might shake the sense out of someone's skull. Yeah, feel free to take a few breaths if you're squeamish, as that's some grim stuff to think about.
According to Musk, the chip could then transmit the information via Bluetooth and interact with a connected machine wirelessly.
The anti-diver entrepreneur said that in animal testing so far, "a monkey has been able to control the computer with its brain".
Neuralink also demonstrated to reporters in one of its research labs how thousands of sensors embedded into a rat's brain could read and record the activity in its grey matter. That's some advanced stuff, but a rat's brain isn't as advanced as a human's - there's no Rat Love Island for example - so popping such sensor into a human noggin might be a tad tricker.
Still, Musk reckons that once the technique is refined for humans, which could happen as early as next year, the tech will be a big deal.
"This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence," Musk said at a press conference San Francisco. "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."
We're still impressed by pop-up phone cameras and very lovely keyboards, so this future vision is an odd one to wrap our brain around; pun intended, sorry not sorry.
But the idea of a brain-computer interface is still pretty interesting and at least it'll be more practical than a Boring company not-flamethrower... quiet at the back, not everyone has a termite infestation. µ
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