Elon Musk Neuralink
The year 2022 promises to be a watershed moment for the Neuralink brain-computer interface. For the first time in a long time, Elon Musk has been in the press and on Twitter discussing Tesla. Elon is announcing to the world that he expects the brain implant technology to go into human trials this year. That would fit in nicely with the timetable that has been developing thus far.
We saw Neuralink in a pig in 2020. We have the mind pong monkey for 2021. As a result, a human candidate for 2022 would fit the bill. We’re starting to notice a rapid acceleration in the brain computer interface business as a whole. This technology is on the way. That is without a doubt the case.
It’s just a question of when it reaches a viable level. Today we are going over the latest word from Elon Musk on the state of Neuralink. A look at where the company is at right now and the direction that BCI is heading in the present year.
In a recent conference hosted by a major newspaper, Musk was given just one minute to summarize what Neuralink would be working on this year. This is obviously not sufficient time. Luckily for us, Elon elaborated longer on what he sees Neuralink being able to accomplish in the next year. The biggest statement being that he expects human trials to go ahead within that time frame. Elon said “we hope to have this in our first humans which will be people that have severe spinal cord injuries like tetraplegics and quadriplegics next year pending FDA approval”.
He bases his confidence on the company’s previous successes, which include monkey tests. Elon stated that Neuralink works well in monkeys, and that “we’re conducting a lot of testing and simply ensuring that it’s highly safe and reliable, and that the Neuralink device can be properly removed when it comes to safety.” Elon assures us that Neuralink’s safety requirements are far greater than those set by the FDA. He compared it to Tesla’s approach to crash safety.
Every Tesla vehicle far exceeds the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) standards for a five-star safety rating. Elon finished his all too short remarks at the conference by saying, “I think we have a chance with Neuralink of being able to restore full body functionality to someone who has a spinal cord injury”. Emphasis on chance of being able to allow someone who cannot walk or use their arms and legs to walk again naturally. “I don’t want to raise hopes unreasonably but I’m increasingly convinced that this can be done”.
Later, Elon carried on the conversation on his Twitter account. “I sincerely hope it gets to the point where Neuralink could help my husband like with memory and delusions,” a user wrote to Elon on December 6th concerning Neuralink.
‘Why not,’ Elon said, ‘the dead part of his brain merely has to be replaced.’
The correct approach to think about it is to replace defective missing neurons with circuits. Many difficulties can be solved simply by connecting messages across neurons that already exist. Next year, when we have devices in people that allow us to have complex discussions with monkeys, progress will accelerate.
The activation impulses can be detected as they flow into the synapsis by electrodes from a brain computer interface positioned near the neurons.
Then we can figure out what signal the brain is giving to the body by decoding those patterns of neuron activation. There is a breach in that network of connections in those who suffer from brain injury or sickness, and the signal is lost along the route.
In principle, Musk claims, we can just build an artificial bridge with electrodes to convey the signal beyond the broken connection and to its destination. That would not be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is feasible. “I am obviously not stating that we can for sure do this,” Elon wrote in another tweet, “but I am increasingly confident that it is achievable.”
It’s vital to emphasize that Neuralink isn’t attempting to create something entirely new. Many of the applications that Neuralink hopes to achieve have already been validated by decades of research in academic labs in the field of brain-machine interface or brain-computer interface. What sets Neuralink different in academic research is its achievements in material science automation and chip technology. At the present, only a handful of devices have been certified for recording and stimulating the human brain. These are mostly employed in the field of deep brain stimulation. This could be utilized to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
There are various devices being utilized in clinical trials for BCI movement control or sensory restoration. These devices use between four and eight electrodes on rather big wire leads around 800 times thicker than a neural link thread. These devices all have a few hundred electrodes and are either put on the brain’s surface or in fixed arrays of single stiff electrodes. Over 1,000 electrodes are individually inserted on extremely thin and flexible threads to avoid blood arteries and better cover the brain region of interest in the connection device. Neuralink is able to send a lot more information through a tiny device.
Instead of being hooked into a computer and sitting on top of a patient’s head, the link will be housed inside the skull and connected via bluetooth. The current technology can only be used in a laboratory or hospital setting. The Neuralink, on the other hand, can be taken home with the patient and used in their daily activities. A brain surgeon isn’t even required for the Neuralink. The threads can be inserted precisely and quickly through a single eight-millimeter skull incision while avoiding blood arteries on the brain’s surface, according to the company’s automated robot design imaging equipment and software. We can anticipate to witness an interface between the brain and an electronic device in the first human trials of the Neuralink gadget.
Neuralink is working on an iOS app that will use bluetooth to connect to the link implant. The app’s purpose is to lead the user through activities that teach them how to operate their iPhone using only their thoughts. Users would first be taught how to utilize a virtual mouse. Users should be able to telepathically manage various devices, such as a keyboard or a game controller, as they get more experience and Neuralink’s adaptive decoding algorithms improve. As previously said, many of these applications are already being tried on other bci devices, so we have something to compare knurling to. Doctor Krishna Chinoy is a Neuralink consultant and a professor at Stanford University.
He recently gave a presentation on the state of the brain-computer interface. It included this really interesting chart of how BCI input compares to our traditional physical interface. It shows that the average human writing by hand with a pen can communicate 13 words per minute. Using a touch screen keyboard, we can get that up to 20 words per minute. By using a touch screen keyboard, and a professional writer with a physical keyboard can hit 75 words per minute using current brain-to-text software.
Users were able to acquire 16 words per minute with an invasive BCI implant as of May 2021, according to a study. That is where BCI technology is right now; it allows individuals to communicate more quickly than handwriting, but not as quickly as typing with their thumbs on an iPhone. The goal of Neuralink is to create a system with at least two orders of magnitude more communication channels than currently approved therapeutic devices. Returning to our words per minute graphic, we can put this in context.
If Neuralink can increase existing brain-to-text performance by even one order of magnitude, it will be a huge step forward. The rate will thereafter increase to 180 words per minute. Conversational speech is measured at only 150 words per minute in the same graph, which is a large if. However, if Neuralink meets or exceeds expectations, we will have a form of communication with a larger bandwidth than human voice, which is really remarkable, and this is what Elon is driving at when he talks about Neuralink. Assisting us in achieving a better artificial intelligence symbiosis.
With the predictive text algorithms, we’ve gone from 20 to 60 words per second. In comparison to the rate of human speech, and especially human thought, it’s still not much. Elon is concerned that if the computer and artificial intelligence expand in power and capabilities but our link to the computer stays limited, the artificial intelligence will simply progress without us. That would be awful since the computer would now be in charge, and we would lose our standing at the top of the planet’s intelligence pyramid. Back to reality, Neuralink is currently focused on developing medical devices that bridge the gaps in the neural network to help people with injuries and neurological illnesses.
It the next few years, it might be from the brain to a limb, the brain to a computer, or even just one area of the brain to another. We’re about to master decoding the electrical messages within our neurons. Once we understand how that code is meant to work, we’ll be able to spot and repair faults. The company believes that as these devices grow in size and learn to interact with more parts of the brain, they will be able to communicate with more parts of the it. They’ll come up with new non-medical uses for the link. Implant Neuralink’s long-term goal is to develop BCIs that are both safe and effective enough that healthy people would desire to use them.
Obviously, successfully installing one of these in a person is a huge first step, and there appears to be no reason why this won’t happen. Everything following that is unexplored ground, and it’s going to get stranger, to say the least.