Elon Musk — founder of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, and most recently owner of Twitter — hosted a flashy event Wednesday night for another of his companies: Neuralink, the startup that proposes implants that connect your brain to a computer.
The event featured a video that Musk said showed a monkey using a brain implant to control a cursor and type on a computer.
It’s not an entirely new technology, as researchers have been working on devices that can decode brain signals for a practical purpose for decades. For example, let someone Write the words Or playing video games using only their brains before.
Musk noted during the Show and Tell event that the primary goal of the evening was to recruit talent for Neuralink.
“A lot of times people think they can’t work on Neuralink because they don’t know anything about biology or how the brain works,” Musk said. “The thing we really want to emphasize here is that you don’t need to because when you break down the skills needed to make Neuralink a success, they’re actually many of the same skills that are required to build a smartwatch or a modern phone.”
DJ Seo, vice president of Neuralink implants, showed off the company’s latest version of the device, stating that it will be wireless and rechargeable. He also shared footage of a robot he said he built to perform the implant surgery and also gave a demonstration of what that surgery could look like, noting that the manufacturing and testing clinic was set up in Austin, Texas.
Musk launched Neuralink more than five years ago with the goal of developing technologies that could enhance human-computer communication by implanting chips in people’s brains. The company has so far only tested it on animals.
Last year, for example, Neuralink said it was able to allow Monkeys to play the video game Pong using only brain implantsalthough something similar has already been accomplished in a human with a brain transplant more than a decade ago. Musk promoted footage of the monkey playing pong again on Wednesday.
“We do everything we can with rigorous tabletop testing, so we’re not smug about putting devices in animals,” Musk said Wednesday.
The basic idea behind Neuralink brings many ideas moral And the Socio-political Questions. But proponents say such devices provide life-changing help for amputees and the disabled if, for example, they lose the ability to use their hands or see.
However, Musk also tends to emphasize non-medical uses, such as using brain implants even on the playing field, if a digital AI turns out to be smarter than any human.
How do we mitigate this risk? At the species level? Musk asked Wednesday. “Even in the benign scenario, where the AI is very, very optimized — how do we go about that journey?”
During Wednesday’s event, Musk was asked if Neuralink plans to make its tools available to neuroscientists. He replied that the company would come after it reached production.
Before Neuralink brain implants can be mass-produced and reach the broader market, they will need regulatory approval. The US Food and Drug Administration issued a paper in May last year mapped out the agency’s initial ideas on brain-computer interface devices, noting that the field is “advancing rapidly.”
Musk said Wednesday that Neuraink has submitted “most” of its papers to the Food and Drug Administration and could begin human testing within six months. It should be noted, however, that Musk frequently states deadlines that don’t come to fruition, from his claims about when SpaceX will Move the Mars rocket into space his expectations of him in self-driving cars will be on the way.
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