Neuralink: the Answer to the Future?

Sam Ferreira, Contributor

Neuralink Corporation is a neurotechnology company founded by Tesla CEO and Founder Elon Musk. The company was started in 2016 in San Francisco, California. The company’s main focus is the development of implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMI’s). The company has used money from its numerous investors to hire top neuroscientists from multiple universities across the U.S.

Serious brain disease treatment is the main factor driving the company. Neuralink wants to use its product to treat brain diseases in the short term. Elon Musk hopes the product will achieve, “symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” Musk perceives artificial intelligence as a serious threat to humanity if left unmonitored. 

symbiosis with artificial intelligence

— Elonk Musk

Though Neuralink is quite protective and secretive with their work public records have given limited insight into the company. In 2019, Neuralink revealed to the public the first prototype of their product. Which would use ultra-thin probes that will be implanted in the brain by a neurosurgical robot. The prototype will use a high-density electronic system that will be able to process information from neurons. 

Many people in the scientific community have mixed views on the project. Some scientists are skeptical of obvious human rights infringements and health complications. While others think Musk has pure intentions and could help cure or treat serious mental disease. If developed successfully, Neuralink could be the key to finding cures to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia. Musk has made it very clear he intends to use Neuralink as a way to keep artificial intelligence in check, as he believes that carelessness in regards to artificial intelligence would ruin our future.

Recently, the company saw a huge breakthrough in a viral video of a monkey with Neuralink playing a video game. In the video, the scientists begin by having the monkey use a joystick to play a game of pong while being rewarded with food for every successful hit. Aft6er letting the monkey play a few rounds of the game, the Neuralink probe was surgically implanted in its brain on the top of its head. Once successfully implanted, the scientists once again put the monkey in front of a screen to play pong. Using the same process as before the monkey used a joystick to play the game. Except for this time the joystick was not plugged into the computer. The Neuralink probe in the monkey’s head was successfully transmitting signals from the monkey’s brain to the computer allowing it to play pong without the need of the joystick. 

A revolutionary and jaw-dropping scientific breakthrough. To most, the idea of Neuralink seemed extremely far-fetched. Many dismissed it as typical wishful thinking from Elon Musk. However, now it is much more of a feasible reality. A monkey playing pong purely with its brain is extraordinary in and of itself, but now the possibilities seem endless for Neuralink. As the technology improves, the benefits improve as well. While playing a game of pong with only your brain is very cool, imagine the other possibilities. The possibility of your loved one with Alzheimer’s being able to remember things. Another goal of Neuralink is to help people with paralysis regain independence. Neuralink would allow them to control all the devices in their lives to give them their freedom back. Instead of needing constant watching, someone with paralysis could return to living independently, increasing their quality of life drastically.

Besides the health benefits, practical use for Neuralink is endless. Neuralink’s website details the app that would be used by users with a Neuralink implant. Users with the implant could control their phone, computer, and any other smart device with just their brain. No physical contact needed. Imagine typing papers by simply thinking the words in your brain and seeing them get written on the screen. Giving a presentation hands-free or any other activity involving a device. In today’s world of interconnectivity and phone addiction, Neuralink could help make interactions with our smart devices much more streamlined and simple. As the device learns and the technology improves the good it could do for humanity increases.

Perhaps Neuralink is the key to a future where humans and technology go hand in hand to increase the well-being of everyone. While at the same time avoiding the impending doom of artificial intelligence Musk predicts.