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Neuralink: the quest to control devices directly with the brain

The same owner of major companies such as SpaceX and Tesla is now looking for a new challenge: connecting the brain to the Internet.

Vector artificial intelligence in a brain

Elon Musk presented his new project that seeks to create a "brain interface". / Photo: Pixabay

LatinamericanPost| Juan Manuel Bacallado

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Leer en español: Neuralink: La búsqueda de controlar dispositivos directamente con el cerebro

Manipulating computers, smartphones and many other technological devices such as a robotic prosthesis through the brain directly is one of the new challenges that the South African businessman Elon Musk is working on, after buying the company Neuralink in 2017 to create an “interface brain ”whose main purpose is to help people with physical disabilities and brain problems, which would be one of his most recent goals, among others such as colonizing the planet Mars with SpaceX, changing vehicular transportation and many other futuristic ideas.

Human test

In August 2020 it would be the first time that Musk will present progress on the Neuralink project, basically the most tangible achievement is that the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) gave him permission to start human trials, since the the company has already carried out studies with rats and pigs in which they managed to effectively implant a computer device and obtain positive and less invasive results than with previous techniques, according to what was reported in the newspaper El Confidencial. For this reason, before the end of 2020, Musk hopes to start tests on human brains.

How does this wearable work?

According to Elon Musk's presentation, Neuralink's technology consists practically of a "wearable" in the style of a smart watch or wireless headphones, and although it has a much more complex operation, it will be necessary to charge them every night according to Xataka. Relying on the fact that the brain is full of neurons that communicate through electrical signals, Neuralink plans to insert electrodes that detect these signals, the electrodes would be present in six wires thinner than a human hair that would connect directly to the brain, in turn there would be a device that manages these threads to extract the information in real time and connect with other devices according to ABC.

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Easy implantation

In the presentation, Musk stressed that the device would be barely the size of a coin and that a robot would be in charge of inserting it in the brain through a 23-millimeter cut in the skull in an operation that would take approximately 1 hour , using local anesthesia, without pain or bleeding and with the possibility of leaving the clinic almost immediately after the incision. The elimination or updating of the system would not be a problem either according to the results obtained in pigs, as said by Xataka. 

Main applications

Regarding the usefulness of this device, for now it focuses on medical functions, especially in people with paralysis and mobility problems, who with Neuralink could manage electronic devices with the brain and achieve better communication with people. It would also be possible to recover the mobility of the limbs thanks to the wireless connection between the brain interface and robotic prostheses or another implant in the affected areas, as well as other technological devices that are still being developed and are based on Artificial Intelligence, for which Neuralink it would allow them to be used directly with the brain, according to Entrepeneur.

But beyond that Neuralink seeks to obtain more complex utilities that benefit people with neuropsychological problems such as depression, Alzheimer's, insomnia, epilepsy, among others, as well as "cure" blindness, deafness and Parkinson's. For the even more distant future, Musk assures that Neuralink could help to store memories and other information to transfer them to other devices and even project them, being possible to move these memories to a robot, "This sounds more and more like an episode of Black Mirror" Musk said in the presentation as reported on CNET.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

N1 sensor implant location using #neuralink

Una publicación compartida por Neuralink Company (@neuralinkcompany) el

Security

The brain is an organ known to reject any artifact that is inserted, for this reason Neuralink is designed to avoid blood vessels and thus not cause inflammation or bleeding. In tests carried out on animals such as rats, pigs and even monkeys, a total of 19 operations were completed with 87% success in the insertion of electrodes, in fact Musk assured that a monkey managed to operate a computer with his brain, according to El Confidencial. 

In terms of computer security, Neuralink would have solid encryption, defensive engineering and constant security audits, which would protect each layer of the system according to Neuralink, which is essential taking into account that this device will have a direct connection to the Internet.

 

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