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Neuralink: Elon Musk Another Venture


Hello everyone, this is the second post of 2020. Also, the first one in Feb (wrote in Feb but published in March). So, I officially lagging behind my 2020 target. But, I have some reasonable excuses and other projects in the pipeline to blame. However, today we will be talking about a very interesting company called 'Neuralink'. It's currently working on the brain-machine interface. I know it's a topic that can make you overwhelmed pretty quickly. But, bare with me and we will together try to grasp those concepts.

What is Neuralink?

So, what the heck is Neuralink? It's a company founded by Elon Musk and is currently working on brain-machine interface research. The long term intention for Nueralink is to help us achieve symbiosis with AI. And, to provide us with a way to get along in this super fast-changing world. More on that later. Before you raise your eyebrows and start imagining a dystopian future, some real-world scenarios can be achieved shortly. In simple terms, it's a technology that can potentially allow us to read messages from the human brain. Now, these are too many jargon words. Let's learn about it step by step.

What is Brain-Machine Interface?


A brain-machine interface is something that helps us read data from neurons present in the human brain. And, potentially send those messages selectively to create the body movements. Apart from Neuralink, there are already some other brain-machine interface systems available like Deep Brain Stimulation. This system is FDA approved and is capable of using 10 electrodes to read and write. Now, you must be asking what are these electrodes, right? Electrodes are responsible for receiving and sending this electrical signal from the brain. To use them, surgery is required to insert these electrodes inside the brain. So, the brain-machine interface can help people dealing with issues like paralysis, deafness, speech-impairment, and many more.

Having said that, there are quite a few challenges when it comes to this very subject. The operation needs to very precise. And it's quite hard to get both approvals and volunteers for this research. And, you all can agree with me on the fact that this whole topic of the brain-machine interface can get overwhelming real quick.

What's so different about Elon Musk's Neuralink?

Various companies are working in the field of brain-machine research and making great progress. So, what's so special about Neuralink? Well, there are quite a few things. Let's talk about them.

First of all, the thread containing those electrodes are 1/10th of the size of a human hair. Also, Neuralink intends to perform the operation using a robot due to the following reasons.

1. It needs to be very precise as we are dealing with such tiny things.
2. Bypassing the risk of inserting these threads in any muscle or blood cell.
2. To leave a patient with no or minimal trauma.

Let's learn a bit more about Neuralink's approach.

According to Musk, the transplanting process/operation will be more like LASIK surgery than open-heart surgery. The robot will be using a needle of size 24 microns for the transplanting process. These threads are attached to a sensor called N1. After the transplanting process, the sensor can be controlled using a wearable device named "Link". This chip and the Link works completely wireless. so, no weird wires are coming out of your head.

The current state of Neuralink 


There are quite a few amazing milestones that Neuralink has managed to achieve. Firstly, an average human hair is about 100 microns. And they managed to fit in electrodes, wires, as well as insulation for those wires in their threads. In addition to that, after trying out 20 different designs in research and development, they came up with a design pattern called "Linear Edge". With these designs, there were trying to fit as many electrodes as they can. Also, there was no chip available in the market that could satisfy their need. After a lot of internal development, they managed to build a sensor that is ready for final assembly and implants.

One of their greatest milestones is their decoding algorithms to make sense of data they record from the electrodes. So far, this decoder is successfully capable to determine basic body movements. And, they are working on in to decode more complex commands.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this is an amazing innovation that we all will be witnessing more of in the future just like SpaceX. It will definitely be a slow process but it will be innovative.  In the near future, it can help us with solving problems like speech-impairment, paralysis, and many more. And the more "long-term" goal of the company is helping us achieve symbiosis with AI. I am very much interested in watching how do they do that. Because in this ever-changing world, that can be a big stepping stone for humans to keep along in the race.

Make sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below. And, for all the updates, you can follow me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.


Thank You & Stay Tuned

Comments

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