Elon Musk’s Neuralink is going to connect computers to the brain…
You may know Elon Musk as the CEO of Tesla or SpaceX. You should know Elon Musk especially because of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched the Bangabandhu Satellite (1). He has several other technology companies. Some of them dig the ground and make tunnels, and some try to know what is going on inside the human brain. One such company of Elon Musk is Neuralink. Founded in 2016, this company was not well known until now. However, the tech world has been in a bit of a stir since Neuralink recently announced one of their devices.
Neuralink has developed a brain-machine interface. In simple words they will insert some connectors/threads (simply ‘wires’) into the human brain like their invented thread. The wires (threads) are then attached to a tiny chip on the skull. The chip will send various instructions from the brain to the computer or smartphonethrough a device connected to the earAnd by using this signal, the paralyzed patients can control any machine without moving their hands or even without making any sound just by thinking. There is no doubt that it would change the world if it could actually be done in humans. And this is why there is so much talk about Elon Musk and Neuralink.
Not that such a brain-machine interface doesn’t currently exist or that other companies haven’t researched it. However, the biggest breakthrough in their research is that they have created a thread-like material to insert into the brain that is so fine that it will not cause any damage to the human brain. So Neuralink is ahead of other brain machine interfaces in this respect. According to their research paper, there are 3072 electrodes in an array of 96 fibers in total. These can transport much more data at once. The threads are only 4 to 6 micrometers in diameter. That means they are finer than human hair.
In addition to these fibers, they have developed another device that can insert fibers into the automatic brain. Although their research has been secret for a long time, Elon Musk highlighted their progress in a presentation last week. Elon Musk said, Neuralink’s purpose of this event is not to create a discussion, but their purpose is to encourage talented employees to join Neuralink. Currently in the lab they are conducting research on different animals. Musk said that a monkey was able to control a computer through this technology. Research on mice is ongoing. Neuralink also has an iPhone app.
Neuralink researchers hope that in the near future they will be able to attach these fibers inside the brain with a laser beam, where holes are currently required to be drilled with a drill machine for the same task. Musk even said that they will be able to insert it into the human brain by the end of next year. A robot has been developed to perform these surgeries.
As mentioned earlier, this brain-machine interface is not new, although thanks to Neuralink and the popularity of Elon Musk, it is now going viral again. Scientists were able to move the cursor of the computer with the help of his mind in this technology by first implanting a brain in a patient with spinal cord paralysis named Matthew Nagle. In 2006, he was able to play a pong game on a computer using only his mind. However, the technology that scientists used for this was called Braingate, which was first developed at Brown University in the United States. In other words, Neuralink didn’t come out of nowhere, rather it has been built on decades of research and education.
But yes, the old braingate technology used only 128 electrodes called the Utah array. Neuralink, on the other hand, is using more than 3,000 electrodes. Elon Musk doesn’t just say it, he shows it. The idea that humans do not fall behind in the competition with artificial intelligence is also working behind this Neuralink project. Neuralink devices have already been successfully implanted in the brains of pigs and monkeys. The company claims that installing and removing the device is completely safe.
In April last year, Neuralink published a video of a monkey named Peiza. It can be seen that Peiza is playing a ping pong game on a computer using his brain without any touch. The voiceover in the video says, ‘Through its brain chip, Neuralink uses more than two thousand fine wire electrodes implanted in the monkey’s motor cortex region to record and decode electrical signals from the brain, which are transmitted directly to a computer device.’
The company claims that the device will solve many problems related to human brain in the future. Apart from solving problems like memory loss, brain damage, depression, anxiety and addiction, it can also solve various neurological problems. A person with paralysis can use devices like mobiles, computers without touch. However, Elon Musk’s claim is broader. In the future learning a new language or acquiring a skill, the Neuralink device will instantly upload it to the brain. Mask even hopes that it will be possible to copy the brain.
Neuralink works with Brain Machine Interface (BMI) or Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology. In this type of technology, the computer is directly connected with the human brain. As a result, it is possible to use the computer only by using the brain.
There has already been success implanting the device into monkeys and pigs. Through the Neuralink device, Peiza, the monkey, is able to use his mind to play a game called pingpong ball.
Neuralink devices are essentially brain computer interface technology. This technology can connect the human brain directly to the computer. As a result, a computer-like device can be controlled by just thinking without any physical action.
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