Billionaire futurist Elon Musk revealed yesterday that scientists at his secretive startup Neuralink want to perform brain surgery on paralyzed patients that would allow them to control computers with their minds. The company demonstrated that it’s already having some success implanting high-speed computing devices in a brain, though that brain belongs to a rat, Bloomberg reports.
But the San Francisco-based tech outfit, which has raised $150 million since 2017—$100 million of that from CEO Musk himself—says it’s ready to move on to humans. As early as next year, Neuralink will seek FDA approval to begin human trials, which will involve drilling four 8mm holes in patients’ heads and inserting the Neuromancer-like implants to create data transmission links between people and machines.
Neuralink President Max Hodak says the cybernetic technology is much closer than we might think. “A lot of people have written this off like it’s impossible,” Hodak says. “There will be great things to come in this field in the next decade, and they should take it seriously.”
Today, Neuralink tweeted out a 12-page “preprint” with more scientific details.
We've released a preprint with additional scientific detail on our devices for domain experts who want to know more. You can find it on bioArxiv: "An integrated brain-machine interface platform with thousands of channels" https://t.co/In7ZwOFIy9
— Neuralink (@neuralink) July 17, 2019
Musk, who has admitted he wants to move to Mars, concurs, telling reporters at a press conference: “This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence. This is not a mandatory thing. It is a thing you can choose to have if you want. This is something that I think will be really important on a civilization-level scale.”
Still, certified memelord Musk couldn’t risk cracking jokes about the undertaking.
Neuralink surprise twist! pic.twitter.com/NdeFsHadm2
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 17, 2019