Monkey playing video games telepathically. Image credits: Neuralink
Monkey Becomes Cyborg
Neuralink got one step closer to turning humans into cyborgs. Elon Musk revealed Neuralink’s latest advancements in a YouTube video of a monkey playing a video game (Pong) with its mind.
The monkey in the video had two Neuralink devices placed on each side of his brain six weeks ago. Simultaneously, it also learned to use a joystick to move a cursor hitting targets on a screen.
Neuralink’s devices recorded the monkey’s neuron activity while it was interacting with the computer. The devices were able to record these signals due to the more than 2,000 tiny wires implanted in the regions of the monkey’s motor cortex which co-ordinates hand and arm movements.
The recordings were then fed into a “decoder algorithm”. The algorithm intends to predict the monkey’s intended hand movements accurately.
Once the decoder was calibrated, the monkey used it to move the cursor where he wanted it to go, without using the joystick.
In order to fully understand how Neuralink will operate in humans, you must first understand that your brain communicates with different parts of your body using neurons.
Neurons in the brain connect with each other and communicate using chemical signals called neurotransmitters. The reactions between neurons generate an electric field. And, that electric field can be recorded by placing electrodes.
Electrodes understand the electrical signal in the brain and translate them into an algorithm that is readable by machines. This way Neuralink will be able to read your thought.
Cyborg Baby Steps
Neuralink’s ultimate aim is to increase the rate at which information flows from the brain to a machine.
While Neuralink is still taking baby steps, Musk hopes that, in the short term, Neuralink will allow paralyzed humans to operate machines with their mind.
The first Neuralink product will allow paralyzed patients to use a Smartphone telepathically. Musk even said that these patients will be faster than someone using their thumbs.
Neuralink’s initial phase will focus on helping the healthcare industry. The chip will allow paraplegics to do simple tasks like operating a phone or a computer. There’s also a possibility that it will also be used to treat epilepsy.
The device will help regain patients’ eyesight, even if the optic nerve is lost. In principle, Neuralink will fix any brain or spinal injury.
At some point, Neuralink will be used to restore memory, speech and movement of a paralyzed patient.
Neuralink will soon replace airpods. The company revealed that uses can stream music directly into their brain. This requires a hardware call link that will be attached to the back of the ear. The hardware will directly communicate with the Neuralink chip to stream music.
Read Minds, Live Forever
After a complete symbiosis of Neuralink and the human brain, the chip will enable humans to interact without the need to talk. CEO Elon Musk didn’t specify if the feature requires users to learn a specific language.
The ability to read minds is just one of many long term goals for Neuralink, and all of them are possible, according to Musk.
Neuralink has entered the realms of AI, so its possibilities are endless. Not needing physical communication with devices like a phone or a smartphone is impressive, but the company won’t stop there. The idea of telepathy is now taken for granted in Neuralink.
Thanks to Neuralink, the speed of communication will increase by folds. Users won’t be wasting time in typing sentences.
Neuralink’s long term goal is to allow humans to send concepts to each other telepathically. The most interesting part of the goal is that the concepts will exist in a “saved state” after a person dies. All of their thoughts can then be put into a robot or another human
Neuralink will further explore more user cases when Neuralink is deployed. But, the focus is making sure the technology interacts seamlessly with devices.
After that, there will be no real concerns regarding Neuralink. People are already “cyborgs” because they have a “digital layer” with their phones, computers and applications. Neuralink will only make them better cyborgs.
“With a direct neural interface, we can improve the bandwidth between your cortex and your digital tertiary layer by many orders of magnitude,” Elon Musk said. “I’d say probably at least 1,000, or maybe 10,000, or more.”