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.
As reported by the Guardian, Musk told attendees at an event hosted by the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco that the startup is pressing forward with its project and has managed to create a form of "thread" which can track the activity of neurons.
The initial applications of this technology would be to help people with spinal cord injuries and other central nervous system-related problems regain some mobility, but will eventually be used to connect human brains directly with artificial intelligence.
"With a high bandwidth brain machine interface, we can go along for the ride and effectively have the option of merging with AI". What? Musk has invested $100 million in Neuralink, a neuroscience company that recently unveiled a "sewing machine-like" robot that can implant ultrathin threads deep into the brain.
Elon Musk's Neuralink, the secretive firm developing brain-machine interfaces, showed off some of the technology it has been growing to the public for the first time.
Musk himself admitted that the technology has a long way to go, and said the presentation was more about recruitment than anything. According to the New York Times, Neuralink president Max Hodak said the technique now requires general anesthesia and drilling a series of holes through the skull, though they eventually hope to switch to a laser and switch to localised anesthesia.
During the Q and A, President Hodar also talked about providing brain enabled APIs for developers to work on and hinted that it can turn into a platform.
One of Neuralink's distinguishing techniques is that it places flexible threads of electrodes in proximity to neurons, the tiny cells that are the basic building blocks of the brain.
After being lightly admonished by Hodak for revealing that information, which was not included in a white paper that Neuralink provided to some media outlets prior to the event, Musk responded: "The monkey is going to come out of the bag".
These threads are 4 to 6 μm in width, which is thinner than a human hair. "It will take a long time, and you'll see it coming".
The technology has a module that sits outside the head and wirelessly receives information from "threads" embedded in the brain.
"Even in a benign AI scenario, we will be left behind", he said. Hodak underlined that the work done by Neuralink has been done standing on the shoulders of many giants who worked in the field from the 1950s.
Founded as a medical research company in 2016, Neuralink has hired several high-profile neuroscientists from various universities.