Elon Musk surprises the world, control machines with a chip in brain - Aniruddha Ingle

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              When we think of Elon Musk, we think of various organizations like Tesla, SpaceX, PayPal, and others. He normalized electrical vehicles with Tesla. He brought the colonization of another planet, Mars, into everyday conversation. At SpaceX, they are making reusable rockets that were believed to be only possible in theory but unattainable technologically. 

Elon Musk 

What is Neuralink?

Neuralink is a company that aspires to solve the brain-machine interface problem. In simple words, a very talented group of scientific minds are working together so you can control machinery with your brain via Bluetooth. It almost sounds like a sci-fi movie, but in a video released on 17th July 2019 - Neauralink announced that they aspire to conduct their first clinical study involving humans in 2020. So, this is not something that may happen decades later, it is happening now. Neuralink was founded in 2016 and first publicly reported in 2017. Its headquarters are in San Francisco. It is actively recruiting high-level scientific minds, engineers, and anyone with talent that can contribute to the project. Elon Musk has stated that one of the reasons for conducting the “Neuralink Presentation” was the recruitment of suitable talent.

How does Neuralink plan to achieve a brain-machine interface?

In Neuralink’s presentation, Elon Musk indicated that the four pillars of this operation are -

  • Threads
  • Robots
  • Electronics
  • Algorithms

  • Threads
When we take an action or think about taking action an electric field is produced that radiates from the neurons within our brain. The idea is to place an electrode near the neuron to record information represented by the neuron in that magnetic field. These electrodes are comparable in size to the neuron itself which is a marvelous achievement in itself. 

  • Robots
Since these neurons are incredibly fine threads, finer than a human hair. These procedures will have to be done with robotic precision, so the neural link team has developed a robot that can perform this task with great precision and repeatability. This means that their robot is able to do it right, and do it right many times. (Precision and Repeatability are metrics in the field of robotics.)

  • Electronics
The design of the electrodes. The mechanism that is used to record the magnetic fields from the neurons. The robots that will perform the surgical operation. All of these and many more problems need to be solved in the electronics domain.

  • Algorithms
Once the data from the neurons are recorded, it needs to be decoded. It needs to be converted into information that is actionable. That is the major algorithmic problem, as indicated in the Neuralink presentation. For example, if a person is thinking of standing up. The data collected by the electrode will not be a sentence in the English Language that says, “This person wants to stand up.” It will be a pattern of signals which will be processed by the algorithm and the algorithm will give an output which will indicate that the person is thinking about standing up.

Human Brain

What is the Risk vs. Reward Estimation of Neuralink’s Implant?

Answering the risks versus rewards question with pure facts is impossible right now. However, if you think this is going to need medical intervention or surgery, then you are right. But hold on, the Neuralink team has indicated that the medical intervention will be similar to Lasik surgery in terms of the patient experience. Lasik surgeries have a 96% success rate (Web MD). So, if you really think about it - one could argue that the risk is comparable to an adventure sport like skydiving or bungee jumping. But the reward is being able to control machinery with your mind.

As an engineer, I think this is an exciting adventure for Elon Musk. On Joe Rogan’s podcast Elon Musk said that he is not really a business guy, he is an engineer and that’s what he loves doing. He builds things. He designs things. He’s more in tune with the engineering aspect of all his major projects. 

Elon Musk

As a man, Elon Musk is truly remarkable in the way that he manages his time. In the way that he is able to do so many things together. The neural link journey will most certainly be one of the great adventures in science and technology.

Blog by - Aniruddha Ingle (Linked In)

Thanks & Regards,
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