Elon Musk Reveals Brain Hacking Plans via Neuralink Interface

Elon Musk -founded Neuralink has gotten into headlines over the past many years around its trials to engineer a new type of interface between the human brain and computing devices. On Friday, the company showcased a demo of the developing technology. Musk kicked off the demo by claiming that the aim of the whole presentation was recruiting not fundraising or any other kind of promotion.

Trying to Solve Neurological Problems

“We’re not trying to raise money or do anything else, but the main purpose is to convince great people to come work at Neuralink, and help us bring the product to fruition, make it affordable and reliable and such that anyone who wants one can have one,” he said.

Musk then continued to say that the reason he wishes to make it generally available. To back this statement he noted that everyone will have some kind of neurological problem over time such as memory loss, anxiety, brain damage, depression, and a long list of other ailments. However, there’s no clear evidence that any of this long list of issues can be easily “solved” with any one solution. That’s why it’s a little challenging to see this as a reasonable end goal for the company.

The goal seems ambitious and definitely will have to face ethical and medical debates. However, the technology that Musk actually exhibited was much less so. Musk first noted that Neuralink had transformed design since the reveal last year. It has now a smaller physical device profile that he stated can be fully hidden under hair once integrated into the skull. He was carrying a physical device in-hand to display its size.

Updates for your Brain!

Back to Gertrude, Musk exhibited a display that played a sound and showcased a visible spike whenever the Link detected that Gertrude made contact with something with her snout while rooting around for food.

“For the initial device, its read/write in every channel with about 1024 channels, all-day battery life that recharges overnight and has quite a long-range, so you can have the range being to your phone,” Musk said. “I should say that’s kind of an important thing because this would connect to your phone, and so the application would be on your phone, and the Link communicating, by essentially Bluetooth low energy to the device in your head.”

Musk finished the prepared portion of the presentation by highlighting that the company had received a Breakthrough Device designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July and that the company is “preparing for first human implantation soon, pending required approvals and further safety testing.”

The exhibited device was only a read-device, receiving data from the signals in the pig’s brain. The actual plan is to offer both read and write capabilities with the goal of being able to tackle neurological issues as mentioned above.

Musk also showed the pig which had had its implant safely removed, to imply the plan is to offer updates to the hardware over time. Finally, Musk said during a later Q&A that Neuralink hopes to achieve the cost down to somewhere in the thousand-dollar range, with a minimal cost for the hardware itself along the line of modern wearable devices.