Everything We Know About Elon Musk's Neuralink

Reports suggest that thousands of potential patients are eagerly awaiting Neuralink’s pioneering brain chips. 

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Mind Over Matter: Everything We Know About Elon Musk's Brain Chip Startup Neuralink
Photo via Neuralink’s official website

Founded in 2016 by Elon Musk, the brain-computer interface startup envisions creating a device. This device aims to enable telepathic communication and mind-controlled gaming.

Initially, Neuralink aims to assist individuals with severe neurological disorders. This assistance allows them to control devices and communicate solely through their brain activity.

Having gained approval for human trials from the US Food and Drug Administration in May, Neuralink opened trial applications in September.

The response has been overwhelming, with thousands expressing interest in receiving an implant, as reported by Bloomberg.

Although Neuralink is yet to perform the brain-implant surgery on a human, available information from startup videos and media reports sheds light on the process. 

The brain chip, approximately the size of a quarter, records and transmits brain activity through ultra-thin threads, totaling 64, each housing over a thousand electrodes. 

These threads, finer than a single strand of hair, are too small for manual implantation and require the precision of a robot.

The brain chip, approximately the size of a quarter, records and transmits brain activity through ultra-thin threads, totaling 64, each housing over a thousand electrodes. 
Photo via Neuralink’s official website

Beyond Human Hands

The eight-foot-tall robot carefully manages thin wires, ensuring a smooth implantation process without disturbing blood vessels in the brain. 

Before the robot can insert the device, a human surgeon must perform a craniectomy, taking a couple of hours. 

The robot then takes about 25 minutes to insert the device, replacing the removed portion of the skull.

Neuralink aims for quicker surgeries and dreams of a future where the entire procedure is done without human intervention, as reported by Bloomberg.

The eight-foot-tall robot carefully manages thin wires, ensuring a smooth implantation process without disturbing blood vessels in the brain. 
Photo via Neuralink’s official website

The Neuralink device sits behind your ear with tiny wires in your brain. Right now, its battery lasts a few hours, but Musk wants it to last around 12 hours. You can recharge it using a special baseball cap.

Cracking the Code

Neuralink has conducted over 150 implantation surgeries, utilizing the robot for various animal test subjects, including sheep, pigs, and monkeys. 

In a notable demonstration in 2021, a monkey named Pager played a video game using only its mind. 

Despite such advancements, Neuralink faced criticism from animal-rights activists. This prompted a complaint from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in 2022.

Allegations of “extreme suffering” among animals used in Neuralink research at the University of California at Davis were denied by both UC Davis and Neuralink. 

The collaboration between the university and the company ceased in 2020. Neuralink, addressing concerns, asserted its commitment to ethical and humane treatment of animals in a blog post.

Elon Musk talking about Neuralink beside the robot.
Photo via Neuralink’s official YouTube channel.

Banner photo by Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia Commons.

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