Elon Musk was asked for an update on Neuralink, the neuro-tech company he started in 2016, to which he replied with a tweet saying “Coming Soon.” Though started almost three years ago, there have not been any major announcements from the company. The company has been reported to developing implantable brain-computer interfaces(BCI) and is located at San Francisco, California.
Brain-computer interfaces provide a pathway for direct communication between an advanced brain and an external machine. Research on BCI first started in the 70s at the UCLA, after which it was offered a contract from DARPA. It primarily attempts to restore damaged hearing, eyesight and other motion activities with the help of advanced neuroprosthetics equipment. Neuroprosthetics such as cochlear implant have been widely used in people but they differ in some areas from BCI. While the neuroprosthetics make a connection of any part of the nervous system to a device, BCI attempts to connect the central nervous system( or brain) to a computer.
Neuralink primarily aims to manufacture devices which will help in treating severe brain diseases and brain damage that has been caused by a stroke. In the long run, it aims to make equipment for overall human enhancement.
The inspiration of this company came from a concept in science fiction named Neural Lace, which is in the fictional world created by author Iain M. Banks in his series of books The Culture. In the futuristic world of Culture, there are aliens, advanced beings, humanoids who live in places spread all over our galaxy, Milky Way.
Elon Musk has been quite vocal about the dangers which artificial intelligence pose to the human civilization and he has said that human beings have to augment their brains for survival in the coming times. According to Musk, if we do not develop we can be degraded to the position of servants in the world dominated by AI. So he feels that a solution can be adding an extra layer of AI to our brain.
Neuralink published a paper in 2015 describing a concept for the BCI. It explained the process of augmenting the human brain with a circuit. Charles Lieber, one of the co-authors of the paper from Harvard University mentioned how researchers are trying hard to minimize the differences that exist between electronic and neural circuits.
But the path is filled with dangers such as ethical mistakes, health side effects and scientists have warned that future advancements can result in manipulation of a person’s emotions, thoughts which is certainly not permissible.