If you’re a wanna-be Johnny Mnemonic, cyber-jacked into the digital world, Elon Musk says he can turn your dream into reality, and merge the human brain with artificial intelligence (AI) as soon as 2020.
At a recent press conference, Musk announced that one of his lesser-known start-ups, Neuralink could, thanks to an implanted chip microscopically-wired to the brain, following recent successes with animal-based trials.
“This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” Musk said during the San Francisco press conference.
The live testing on rats and monkeys, described as a necessary part of the technology’s development by Neuralink CEO Max Hodak “We wish that we didn’t have to work with animals, we just wish that wasn’t a step in the process, but it is,”.
According to a white paper credited to Elon Musk and Neuralink, testing on 19 rats to date has produced an 87% implant success rate, and success with at least one monkey. Neuralink senior scientist Philip Sabes mentioned that said some results would be published in a new paper “soon,” with Musk cutting across: “A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain, just FYI.”
The device consists of a chip, with an array of up to 96 polymer threads, each with up to 32 electrodes that are implanted into the brain by a robot, via a 2 millimeter incision. The threads are thinner than a hair, less than 6 micrometers, because, said Musk “If you stick something in your brain, don’t want it to be giant, you want it to be tiny.”
Once implanted, the chip would connect wirelessly to devices. “It basically Bluetooths to your phone,” said Musk.
The company plans to apply the technology to in medicine, specifically to brain disorders and brain damage, and has been in discussions with patients.
It is hoped that human trials will begin in late 2020, but “Getting FDA approval… is quite difficult,” Musk said. “This will be a slow process where we gradually increase the issues that we solve until ultimately we can do a full brain-machine interface.”
View the recent live stream from the event here: