Elon Musk has spent most of his working adult life pursuing tech advances with companies like SpaceX, Tesla, TheBoring Company, Xcom (now PayPal), Open AI, Solar City and now as co-founder of Neuralink he hopes someday to put computer chips in the brain.
Musk believes that very soon slender wires with electrodes on them will be inserted in human brains by a surgical robot and then connected to a wireless computer chip and the implant would be placed behind a person’s ear making it possible for them to communicate with a computer through thoughts. This is part of the many brain-computer interface (BCI) work that is going on in several research centers in the world.
The purpose for Neuralink’s system, is to enable people like quadriplegics to someday be able to use smartphones through thought control – like a telepathy device. There are brain-machine interfaces that exist today that help people who have sustained neurological disorders through cerebral palsy, stroke, or spinal cord injury or hearing loss. Many use different brain signals but none are using thought control to manipulate devices.
A Mayo Clinic abstract in ‘Brain-computer Interfaces in Medicine,’ concludes by saying that, “Many researchers throughout the world are developing BCI systems that a few years ago were in the realm of science fiction and these systems use different brain signals, recording methods, and signal-processing algorithms. Furthermore, they can operate many different devices, from cursors on computer screens to wheelchairs to robotic arms. A few people with severe disabilities are already using a BCI for basic communication and control in their daily lives. In the final analysis, with better signal-acquisition hardware, clear clinical validation, viable dissemination models, and, probably most important, increased reliability, BCIs may become a major new communication and technology control for people with disabilities—and also possibly for the general population.”
Neuralink, co-founded by Elon Musk and others in 2016, has tested the wire implants on rats and Musk also says that it enabled a monkey to use its brain to control a computer. The benefits for Neuralink’s BCI is that the invasive surgery will not be as big as what has been used so far and that everything, particularly thoughts, will be connected to a computer chip using thoughts to control smartphones, computers or other tech devices for the use by people with disabilities.
Scientists around the world are excited and are looking forward to the advances of Neuralink’s research and development of Musk’s vision of using micro threads one sixteenth the width of a human hair inserted into the human brain to bring new life someday to those who are disabled with a less invasive method.