Elon Musk’s data transmission company “Neuralink” unveiled plans on Tuesday night to merge human brains with computers as early as next year.
“A lot of people have written this off like it’s impossible,” said company president Max Hodak in an interview with Bloomberg. “There will be great things to come in this field in the next decade, and they should take it seriously.”
Neuralink, which was launched in 2017, plans to seek US Food and Drug Administration approval for clinical trials on humans — with the ultimate goal being to implant electrodes into the brains of paralyzed patients, which would allow them to operate computers with their minds.
To do this, robots will drill four 8mm holes into the patients’ skulls and insert electric implants that will allow them to click away using nothing but their thoughts. Neuralink has performed the procedure on at least 19 animals and successfully placed the electrodes or “threads” a reported 87 percent of the time.
“We will painlessly laser-drill the holes into the skull, place the threads, plug the hole with the sensor, and then you go home,” Hodak explained. “It’ll basically be an experience like getting Lasik.”
The human device would be implanted behind the ear and used to input words into a phone or computer, and to navigate web pages and screens as well.
Patients should be able to type at least 40 words per minute, if the tech works successfully.
“I’ve been interested in this since I saw The Matrix in fifth grade,” Hodak told Bloomberg.
The outlet points out how “lots of treatments” that work on animals don’t do as well on humans. Even if Neuralink is able to carry out the procedures, they’d have to perform therapies to prove the implants are safe and useful to patients.
The company unveiled its plans in a research paper on Tuesday night.
Author: Chris Perez