Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company Neuralink claims that monkeys have been able to play a video game with their mind. But the big aim of the venture is an evolution of sorts of the human brain.
Neuralink Corp., the world’s innovator supreme’s nanotechnology company, is involved in developing cutting age implantable brain-machine interfaces. Founded by the richest citizen of the world Elon Musk, Neuralink is essentially a group of high-profile neuroscientists and technical experts from leading universities working on cutting edge experiments with the brain.
Neuralink’s first animal testing facility has been created in San Francisco to carry out further research work. They also run another research team at the University of California, Davis. The team revealed their first prototype to the public during a live presentation at the California Academy of Sciences in 2019. Neuralink’s plans are headed towards a human demo with trials that could happen as early as late-2021.
Neuralink’s Research on Monkeys
According to reports by Neuralink, the company has been working on monkeys as their test subjects to test robust brain-machine interfaces. The device of the said experiment is about 23mm × 8mm and sits flush on the skull. This is made up of 3,000 electrodes that can easily monitor around 1,000 neurons on their own. These electrodes are attached to hair-like threads called “tiny wires”.
In an interview, Elon Musk revealed “Monkey has been able to control computer with his brain.” While this has been interesting enough, according to the latest update by the Neuralink team, monkeys have played the videogame with the help of their interfaces. In his interview, Elon has claimed the monkey to be a happy monkey. In his words, “He looks totally happy.”
Earlier in August 2020, a video was released by Neuralink of a pig named Gertrude where his brain activities were monitored on the screen.
Watch: Elon Musk demonstrates Neuralink implant in pig’s brain
Benefits in the Field of Neuroscience
According to various interviews and statements, the Neuralink team wants to expand their area of research to be able to help humans with neurological disorders. In a recent post on their website, this experiment has the potential to treat various neurological disorders that includes restoring sensory and movement functions. This strategy would mean tremendous investment which could make going public with a blockbuster IPO an eventuality.
In his recent tweets, the president and co-founder of Neuralink, Max Hodak, has revealed some of the updates on their current project. According to his statement, the team at Neuralink is currently working on “helping patients with serious or life-threatening disabilities.” In its initial stage, the brain surgery for the said implantation can be serious that is expected to turn simpler over time.
With the implantation, the patient with a spinal cord injury would be able to use a computer as a person with sound health conditions. The whole project is expected to available before 2025.
What can the Future be?
With all the robust technologies comes the very obvious question – Will this change our future? Even though the answer is yet to be known, it is certain to bring some definitive changes to several fields or at least the way we look at them currently.
Watch: How Neuralink can change the world as we know it
If successful, the project has the potential to change the face of neuroscience. This might also open scope for future researches where people with such severe injuries or neurological disorders that lead to memory loss and seizures will get to have a second chance at a normal life. The prospects of Neuralink and its current trajectory mirrors the paths of Musk’s other ventures like Tesla which had a bumper IPO and continues to grow in leaps and bounds.
According to Musk, with further progressions people will be able to save and replay their memories and perform other tasks with the help of this device. If someone is truly able to project their memories and thoughts through this device, it would surely open new scopes to expand and explore for AR and VR experts. It will also be interesting to see the new horizons be opened if this new tech meets Artificial Intelligence in the future. Though all these thoughts are merely based on some ‘ifs’, they can surely come to reality one day, transcending into a true evolution of the human brain.