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What Elon Musk’s Neuralink means for the future of Technology.

January 9, 2021 By Chukky Derrick

Neuralink sounds awfully a lot like some Charles Xavier super power if you have heard about it before. Except this time, it isn’t mind to mind control (who knows? that might even be possible) but mind-technology control. Neuralink basically is a new field of technology proposed by the CEO of Tesla motors Elon Musk that serves as an interface for brain-machine data transfer and communication.

Firstly, Neuralink has actually been launched as a company. This was done in the year 2016.  A reality where people would be able to interact with machines with their minds would be very ground-breaking and shake the world of technology, many devices would become irrelevant, like the remote control for one or even the credit card (though some cellphones now support payment via NFC, meaning no need for a credit card but it’s still machine to machine). To be honest Brain Computer Interfaces is not actually new to the world. There’re fields like MRI and EEG, healthcare basically. Mankind through scientific research has always been trying to understand and link the brain with machines and Neuralink might just be the first at solving the age-old conquest. With Neuralink you would be able to do things you normally did with your hands with your mind. Though the image of one sitting like a vegetable and using his mind to change TV stations is kind of off setting. This new field of Brain Machine Interface might even be better than we imagine. Just picturing a scenario where I can change the music playing via my PC speaker as I type without changing the app window really sounds good. Also the idea of sending thoughts around the world would be awesome, Sense 8 fans in the house.

So, is Neuralink important in anyway? Even Facebook is developing its own interface.  Are the prospects in demand or is it just ‘cool tech’? This is asked because its founder has a reputation for doing futuristic tech like trying to colonize Mars for one. Apart for its obvious advantage in medicine is there anyway it shapes the future of technology?

Elon Musk is also popular for his company that’s trying to colonize mars.

Neuralink blueprint | Source : Unite A.I

Less Hardware for one

Not that anyone is complaining but going out with your car key, credit card and even smartphone could seem stressful if you are the kind of person that prefers to move light. Neuralink due to its prospect for control machines with the mind might drastically sever the needs for third party control systems. Gadgets like the remote control mentioned above and the game joystick controller might not be needed but then again, we have seen a scenario where trying to reduce hardware failed, with the Apple iPhone X exclusion of the headphone jack. This wasn’t well accepted by the general public in fact smartphone companies even take phones with the jack as a feature plus currently. Neuralink might bring less hardware to the table but to get people to hop on with the idea might just seem out of the way.

Safer Artificial Intelligence

Right from the onset, Elon Musk has never been a fan of intelligent machines and has even gone on to state that they are deadlier than nuclear bombs. Musk feels that A.I would be one of the greatest threats to humankind and that while we are upgrading the machines and making them more powerfully intelligent, we should not leave ourselves out. The Brain Machine Interface would serve as a means of placing a leash on A.I and also a means of leveling the playing field. If you are familiar with movies like Terminator you should be aware about the prospects of ‘killer A.I’. A brain Machine interface would reduce the risks of when machines begin to get super powerful and achieve a “symbiosis with artificial intelligence” as put by Musk.

So how will Neuralink be installed and how does it work?

Installed sounds scary and maybe it should because we are talking of brain surgery here. That’s typically how the chip would be placed. The chip is called the N1 chipset and is approximately 8mm in diameter and has insulation for the wires and also, electrodes. A robot would then carry out the process which won’t take hours hopefully and place the implant in the brain. The activity is beyond the human hands as stated by Musk and definitely needs to be carried out by a robot. Neuralink will work basically by decoding the electric charges in the brain fired by neurons, this is done by neurotransmitters. The electrodes then absorb these charges and then transmits them into signals the machine can understand. For transmitting the data via signals at the moment Neuralink uses a Bluetooth transmitter. Hopefully that would improve in the future. Musk has clearly stated that the first phase of the technology would be implemented in the healthcare industry. The technology can be used to treat spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s and possibly Dementia.

Issues related to the implementation of Neuralink

Since the whole procedure would involve poking into people’s brains and also inserting a device, there would be serious regulations to be put in other, safety for one and lots of tests to be run and implemented. Neuralink has begun testing on pigs at the moment. What of in the case of defense and national purposes? Such a technology being utilized by the wrong people would be very disastrous but then again anything can fall into the wrong hands Neuralink or your car keys.  There would be strict policies and regulations surrounding the technology and also the question of hackers and stealers because it is definitely going to work with internet connectivity unless Musk comes up with something better. Neuralink hasn’t yet moved to human testing at the moment and is still trying to pass the safety test of inserting electrodes into the brains of animals and trying to read the information transmitted from the electrodes. There’s also lots of scrutiny and approval by the FDA before they can commence into human testing. Neuralink if successful would be very beneficial to humanity in the long run.

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