Neuralink Reveals its Brain Implant Device in Detail

Elon Musk‘s Neuralink has revealed the work it did while staying almost completely in the shadows for another year. In a live-streamed event on Friday, August 28th, the brain-machine interface firm provided watchers with a demonstration, answered some questions, and left people with even more information to ponder.

“The primary purpose of this demo is recruiting,” Musk stated at the beginning of the presentation.

He pointed out that almost everyone in their life will have some brain or spine problems, which are inherently electrical, meaning it takes electrical solutions to address electrical issues. Neuralink’s aim is to tackle these problems, and allegedly, that application will be reversible and with no negative effects.

How the Neuralink​ Implant Device Works

Two pigs were used for the demonstration. The first, named Gertrude, had a Neuralink​ brain implant incorporated into its brain for two months, while the second pig, named Dorothy, had the implant previously installed and removed with allegedly no side effects.

Neuralink Implant Device. [Image: Neuralink]
The live stream audience, therefore, witnessed Gertrude’s implant in action. The neural implants could foresee all the limb movements of the pigs because of the neural activity being read. Each reading was shown on a screen as data was processed.

Overall, the Neuralink​ implant device has been significantly simplified since last year. Its design will be almost invisible on the outside, leaving a scar that could eventually be covered by hair.

“It’s like a FitBit in your skull with tiny wires,” Musk said. “I could have it right now, and you wouldn’t even know. Maybe I do!”

The device is inductively charged, similar to wireless smartphones, and will also have features that are alike those available on smartwatches. A smart robot installs the implant, which asks for engineering talent to carry on, hence the recruiting focus of the event.

The electrodes are installed without general anesthesia, and the current robot has been able to do all the current implant installations until now. According to the presentation, you can have several Neuralink​ devices implanted, and they will function seamlessly, through an application linked to people’s mobile devices.

Neuralink pig testing joint tracking. [Image: Neuralink]
The device will ultimately be developed to be stitched deeper within the brain, which would give it access to a wider range of functions beyond the upper cortex, including motor function, depression, and addiction.

Merging Humans With AI

The idea for Elon Musk’s AI-based brain device first appeared to take off after his appearance at Vox Media’s Recode Code Conference back in 2016. The CEO had talked about the concept of a neural lace device on a few occasions before the conference, and even suggested that he might be willing to address the challenge himself. After a few months, he revealed that he was actually working on the concept.

“He started Neuralink to accelerate our pace into the Wizard Era—into a world where he says that ‘everyone who wants to have this AI extension of themselves could have one, so there would be billions of individual human-AI symbiotes who, collectively, make decisions about the future.’ A world where AI really could be of the people, by the people, for the people,” Tim Urban wrote on his website Wait But Why​.

Neuralink’s Twitter account used the #askneuralink hashtag the night before the event, which led to several questions during the presentation. Still, Musk aerated the curiosity before the event even started.

“Giant gap between experimental medical device for use only in patients with extreme medical problems & widespread consumer use. This is way harder than making a small number of prototypes,” Musk responded to a question about the mass-market viability of a future Neuralink​ product range.

You can watch the full event below:

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