The ‘Neuralink’ technology which helped a monkey to play video games using his mind can soon experiment on humans. Also, Elon Musk claims to establish a connection between the human brain and computers.
Neuroscience has been one of the modern wonders of mankind. Although a lot of progress has to be made in this field, there have been many such experiments that continue to amuse the scientific community. Recently, Tesla Chief Elon Musk has once again opened his box of innovations and announced that one of his startup companies has developed a lab-based testing facility where a monkey is fitted with brain chip implants and is seen happily playing video games through his brain controls.
Elon Musk made this statement on a live stream on the Clubhouse app and talked about his neurotechnology company – ‘Neuralinks’. Tesla further dissected the monkey which has been quite successful in playing games and controlling them through his mind. This was possible through wireless implants with tiny wires that have been embedded in the skull of the monkey.
The ‘Neuralink’ technology
Moreover, Elon Musk further claimed that Neuralink has the best facilities for monkeys in the world and further said that he also wants monkeys to play ‘mind-pong’ games with each other. Last year, a similar experiment was performed by Neuralink on a pig named Dorothy. Thereafter the chip was removed from her, demonstrating a successful transition from having a chip-enabled brain to becoming a normal living being.
The main aim behind such experiments by Tesla led companies is to eventually use the technology on humans. The development of such technology will enable humans to control electronic devices like smartphones directly from their brains.
As far as Neuralink is considered, CEO Musk founded it in 2016. It was only in 2017 when the Wall Street Journal revealed the plans of Elon Musk of establishing a synchronous connection between human brains and computers. Although, this concept is not entirely new as other scientists have already demonstrated the usage of such technology back in 2012. This technology was used to control robotic arms and also helped paralysed patients in responding.
Under this technology, a tiny or micro chip is attached behind the person’s ear. The chip is connected to tiny threads which carry electrodes that helps to establish or read various responses in the human brain. Furthermore, Elon Musk just doesn’t want to restrict the scope of this technology to what has been possible till now and also wanted the technology to make the symbiosis between a human and AI.
Connecting human minds with computers
This Neuralink technology works in three different steps all of which are interconnected. Initially, Neuralink used floppy wires which were quite flexible. These wires tend to move in accordance with brain movements. Each of these wires is equivalent to the size of a thin hair strand. These wires are then connected to electrodes which detect the activity of the brain.
As the brain is a highly delicate and soft organ, there remains a high number of chances of it getting damaged from any kind of outside stimulation or through comparatively hard wires. Therefore these floppy wires neither damage any tissue inside the brain nor leads to any inflammation. But as of now, this technique remains quite new and still is in its research phase.
Further, the company has also developed a machine like that of a sewing machine to attach those wires or threads to the outer surface of the brain. Since this has to be done very cautiously while ensuring zero damage to the brain, human hands cannot perform such functions steadily. The device pokes wires just 1 millimetre into the surface of the brain.
The final step consists of getting signals out of the brain. As those electric signals are quite sensitive and specifically small, they can easily get distorted as they travel through any ordinary wire. This happens due to the production of electrical noise. But the company has developed special chips that can record even minute and sensitive brain signals with higher accuracy covering larger parts of the brain.
Brain Computer Interface system
Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) acquire brain signals, analyse them, and translate them into commands that are related to output devices that carry out desired actions. Elon Musk is vouching for the development and advancement of this technology as it can smoothly read millions of neurons in the brain and can eventually translate the thought of a human into computer commands.
The research in this field has been going on for the last 15 years. Since 2003, only 20 people in the USA have got these BCI implants. Further, it can also enable paralysed people to type eight words per minute along with controlling prosthetic limbs.