Neuralink, a company set up by Elon Musk where he has invested $100 million, has been exploring ways to connect the human brain to a computer interface. The company recently applied to US Food and Drug Administration to start trialing its device on humans.
The company hopes to begin working with human subjects as soon as the second quarter of next year. The plan is to devise a “sewing machine-like” robot that can implant ultrathin, flexible threads deep into the brain to monitor the activity of 1,000 neurons. The system has been tested on a monkey that was able to control a computer with its brain, according to Mr. Musk.
Though previously Mr. Musk has suggested that AI could destroy the human race, the firm said it wanted to focus on patients with severe neurological conditions and help humans with an array of ailments. By targeting very specific areas of the brain, it would be surgically safer to analyze recordings and decipher what type of stimulation to give a patient.
“It’s not like suddenly we will have this incredible neural lace and will take over people’s brains. It will take a long time.”, Mr. Musk said during his presentation. He also mentioned that for those who choose it, the system would ultimately allow for “symbiosis with artificial intelligence”.
One of Neuralink’s distinguishing techniques is that it places flexible threads of electrodes near the neurons, the tiny cells that are the basic building blocks of the brain. These bundles of threads are each about a quarter of the diameter of a human hair.
Mr. Musk is also looking to recruit more scientists to the firm, which currently has about 100 employees.