Elon Musk’s start-up firm, Neuralink is working on an advanced technology which he says can be equipped in a human brain and won’t have a devastating impact on the surrounding brain tissue, which is contrary to what is obtainable today.
The multi-entrepreneur says this technology is achievable with chips and that it hopes to solve brain disorders and other issues. On a long term, Neuralink is looking forward to finding a relationship between its technology and artificial intelligence to solve medical challenges. He went on to emphasis opting for this technology will be a matter of choice. “This is not a mandatory thing. This is something you can choose to have if you want,” he said.
To achieve this feat, Neuralink has created a robot that operates like a sewing machine to implant the threads. The threads are very thin, about a third the diameter of the thinnest human hair and will be implanted deep within the person’s brain tissue where it will be capable of reading and writing at an extremely high data volume.
Scientists at Neuralink told the media that the company still has a long way before they can achieve these and go commercial. For now, all they are doing talking about the process because they need to connect with the academic and research community. This way they can work better and achieve more.
Max Hodak, co-founder and president Max Hodak told NYT about the company’s vision with exploring every solution to aid medical challenges including potential applications to enable amputees regain mobility using prosthetics, hearing deficiency, reversing vision and other challenges.
By 2020, it’s hoping to collaborate with surgeons at Stanford and other institutions to begin working with human test subjects.
For now, Neuralink’s technology involves drilling real holes into the person’s skull to insert the ultra-thin threads, but in future, would shift to using lasers to create tiny holes which are less invasive and won’t be much felt by the patient. However, working on human beings for a concept or an idea that’s relatively new is almost impossible even though Hodak claims that the scientists used a laboratory rat this week with the performance level exceeding general expectations with what is available today in terms of data transfer.
A scientist among the other worries about the sustainability of the thin, flexible threads. When exposed to the brain, the components of the thread, a salt mix fluid can damage and degrade plastics overtime. The scientists hope that the electrodes equipped in the brain will be able to interact wirelessly with chips outside the brain. This way, there will be a real time monitoring without external connections.
Elon Musk is spearheading the bulk of the financial burden aside from acting as the CEO of his new company. His companies, including Tesla have about 90 employees. He mentioned that a strong motivation behind Neuralink is to engage new talent.