Neuralink: the Future of the Brain
by Samir Ahmed
Neuralink is a company founded by Elon Musk that is working on a brain implant that according to cnet can help “people deal with brain and spinal cord injuries or congenital defects.” This could help paraplegics and people with tetraplegia. However, this is just the beginning for Neuralink: eventually it will become more sci-fi and potentially allow people to speak with their minds and even backup and restore their memories similar to what we would do with a phone, except with a new body, Musk even said "This is increasingly sounding like a Black Mirror episode”, but most of these are just ideas that probably won't come to fruition, but if they do come to life, it will have an even bigger impact then it would, as just a medical device; it will change the way we communicate, see, and live.
According to the presentation Elon Musk held last Friday, the implant can be removed and even upgraded. Neuralink received approval to test by the FDA and is currently being tested on animals. The presentation showed three pigs: one pig without an implant, one pig had the original prototype and it was removed to show that nothing will change if the implant is removed, then the third pig, Gertrude, had the current prototype and her brain was able to be read in real-time without having large machine attached to her. Instead she was allowed to move freely and be happy. Neurologists such as Thomas Oxley believe that Neuralink has potential, but do not expect major breakthroughs any time soon. Michel Maharbiz, an electrical engineering professor at Uc Berkeley, believes Neuralink will be working in phases for a few years. Currently, the Neuralink prototype is limited to read a small portion of the brain, but according to the conversation it's “a pretty big step forward, and it’s definitely an element that has been missing from the research on brain-computer interfaces thus far.
While some other wireless brain implants exist, they require major surgeries to implant and are typically either bulky or limited in where in the brain they can be placed.” This is going to be huge for researchers because now they can get real-time information from the brain, as the subject is moving and doing whatever they want to do. Another benefit with Neuralink is it has a machine that can eliminate the long surgeries and can be done without general anesthesia. The long term goal for this machine is to be as safe as lasik. Neuralinks new implant features a new design which can be directly attached to the brain and is about the size of a large coin and can charge wirelessly through skin. The previous version was designed by Woke Studio and would be attached to the side of the ear by a magnetic silicone patch it had a battery life of Three hours and was meant to be as easy to put on as AirPods.
Neuralink has a lot of potential, and it will change the world, if they can make the claims a reality like the ability to backup and restore the brain, or being able to stop brain disorders, or even communicate telepathically. The whole point of Neuralink is to cure neurological conditions and help over one billion people with neurological conditions.