The billionaire Elon Musk reported that his startup Neuralink is making progress on an interface that connect the brain with computers, which is expected to begin testing in people next year.
“We can do a complete brain-machine interface,” Musk said with members of Neuralink during an event in San Francisco to showcase their progress and recruit talents in the fields of software, robotics, neuroscience, among others.
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The project can “achieve a kind of symbiosis with artificial intelligence”, said Musk, a futuristic entrepreneur also at the helm of Tesla and SpaceX.
Musk says that a link that unites minds with machines is vital if people want avoid being bypassed by artificial intelligence which, according to him, puts humans at risk of being relegated to the role of “house cats.”
Neuralink showed the first version of a tiny sensor that can be implanted in a brain through a small incision made by a robot specially built to perform this high-precision task.
“They are mini electrodes and the robot delicately implants them,” Musk said, noting that there can be thousands of these electrodes connected to a brain.
“It is something that will not be stressful to place, that will work well and does not require physical connections,” he said.
The chip will communicate over the air with a kind of hearing aid that sends information to a smartphone application, depending on Neuralink.
For now, the goal is for a person with the implants to control the phone with thoughts, but the technology may eventually be extended to other devices, such as robotic arms.
“He has tremendous potential,” Musk said. “We hope to have it in a human patient before the end of next year.”
According to a neurosurgeon from Neuralink, one of the first objectives of this technology is to treat patients with neurological diseases. But in the long run, it’s making implants so safe, reliable and simple that they can enter the field of elective surgery for those who want to power their brain with the power of a computer.
Musk said the goal is that placing one of these implants in the brain is as simple a procedure as laser eye surgery.