A Goal in Mind

Entrepreneur Elon Musk Introduces New Brain Implants


Photo Courtesy of CottonBro

Brain scans are seen being displayed. https://www.pexels.com/photo/medical-imaging-of-the-brain-5723875/

Elon Musk, a billionaire and entrepreneur who is the CEO of Tesla, the founder of SpaceX and more, has now created a new company by the name of Neuralink. This futuristic company has begun developing neural interface technology, also known as a microchip to be embedded in an individual’s brain. “Musk has compared the technology to “‘A Fitbit in your skull,’” according to BusinessInsider.com.

The purpose of this newfound technology is to record and stimulate brain activity, as well as potentially treating certain conditions, such as spinal-cord injuries and neurological disorders. So far, the device has only been tested on monkeys, with only seven out of 23 surviving and being transferred to a Neuralink facility. A tweet posted by Musk in 2021 states that they are hoping to begin implementing the devices in humans this year. “Progress will accelerate when we have devices in humans (hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys) next year,” he said.

According to BusinessInsider.com, “The chip Neuralink is developing is about the size of a coin, and would be embedded in a person’s skull. From the chip, an array of tiny wires, each roughly 20 times thinner than a human hair, fan out into the patient’s brain.” These wires are said to have 1,024 electrodes embedded within them that will receive data from the brain and transmit it to computers where researchers can study it.

There are also claims that the technology could even “save memories so people can revisit them like photo albums,” and “enable humans to carry out actions through thought alone,” according to Fortune.com. That same Fortune article mentions that experts are skeptical about the reality of these claims and the device’s abilities, with Christof Koch, a researcher at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, saying that, “Unlike Tesla or SpaceX, we are not talking about technological problems or infrastructure problems. These are fundamental science problems.”

Along with the device, Neuralink is working to develop a robot that could automatically implant the chip into human brains. “The robot would work by using a stiff needle to punch the flexible wires emanating from a Neuralink chip into a person’s brain, a bit like a sewing machine,” Isobel Asher Hamilton wrote in this BusinessInsider.com story. Musk has stated that this robot would make the implantation process as “easy as LASIK eye surgery.”

The company hasn’t begun clinical trials yet as the implant hasn’t been approved by the FDA, but those that fit the criteria and are interested in applying can submit a general application on the company’s website. So far, scientists have said none of the developments made by Neuralink have been revolutionary, but if there was further progress made to the device, it could potentially change lives.