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article imageNeuralink pushes on with developing a brain-computer interface

By Tim Sandle     Jul 22, 2019 in Technology
Following trials on animals, Elon Musk’s experiments with brain-machine interfaces via his Neuralink company are now ready for human trials. This will be exploratory work to treat medical conditions. Not every commentator thinks this is a good idea.
During July, technology startup Neuralink outlined its technology at the California Academy of Sciences. This included the use of a module placed outside the head that wirelessly receives information from thin flexible electrode threads embedded in the brain. The company has developed a robot to carry out the procedure, under the direction of a neurosurgeon.
Neuralink Corporation is a U.S. neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk and others, which is focused on developing implantable brain–machine interfaces.
The procedure using human volunteers could begin mid-way through 2020 if FDA approval is granted. With this, Neuralink aim to drill four 8-millimeter holes in the skulls of volunteers and insert threads that will transmit neuronal data to an implant behind the ear. This will also send data to a computer.
As for the reasons, according to Musk: “Even under a benign AI, we will be left behind. With a high-bandwidth brain-machine interface, we will have the option to go along for the ride.”
In terms of more practical applications, the first aim is with patients with serious medical diseases, such as those with complete paralysis due to an upper spinal cord injury. However, full details are, at this stage, light.
A white paper has been issued, which spells out some aspects of the medical vision. An extract from the paper runs: “While significant technological challenges must be addressed before a high-bandwidth device is suitable for clinical application, with such a device, it is plausible to imagine that a patient with spinal cord injury could dexterously control a digital mouse and keyboard.”
Even if a medical breakthrough is possible, not everyone thinks that the approach is along the right lines, especially in terms of not developing the technology for the right reasons. According to Benn Lamm, CEO, Hypergiant, who has written to Digital Journal: “I believe with Neuralink we are solving for a problem that we may not clearly understand. We have accepted the narrative about the possibility of AI overlords without challenge and as such, has risen the need for super-human capabilities that can rule over the future AI bad-actors that Musk and other posit. Yet, I think this sells humanity short.”
Hypergiant is an AI solutions provider, utilizing AI for space industrialization and seeking o solve pressing problems through technological innovation
Lamm adds: “What we must do though is understand why we are doing this in order to create technology that truly serves our most pressing needs…We should create a symbiotic AI relationship because of the potential to improve the lives of all people. Advanced technology is for human good.”
More about neuralink, elon musk, braincomputer interface, Machines, Artificial intelligence
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