Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Recently, for a discussion on Advanced Mental Health Technology, I presented a breakdown of research done by Elon Musk and the Neuralink program for my Technology and Mental Health (TEAM) lab.
Neuralink is an implantable chip and surgical machine that allows for a brain computer interface. It is at the forefront of neuroscience technology for a number of reasons which will be discussed below. I will break down this technology by what it can do, the future this technology could bring, and what is holding it back. This breakdown is based on Elon Musk and Neuralink's research paper An Integrated Brain-Machine Interface Platform With Thousands of Channels.
What is Neuralink?
Both Chip and Machine
High speed and extremely precise surgical tool
Invasive microchip (Interior of the head)
Brain-Computer Interface (like non-invasive Muse or EEG)
Open loop/real time communication and monitoring (continuous)
What could this technology do?
Improve brain surgery
Neurorehabilitation of sensory and motor disabilities
Cognitive state evaluations
Detecting hidden information
Help patients resistant to drug therapy
Help control seizures by (as the paper focuses on)
Applying stimulation to interrupt and prevent epileptic seizures
Enhancing pre-epileptic recognition
Reducing false positive stimulations
What is the future of this technology?
Advanced assistive technologies for paralyzed persons
Control over wheelchairs, exoskeletons, and robotic manipulation
Manipulation through brain activity
Control external devices
Interact with environment (such as Smart Home or Internet)
What is holding it back?
*These metrics are still better than other similar technology
It's Expensive & Experimental
Surgery costs about $10 to 20 million
Mainly tested on rats and pigs
Takes a large number of channels
Needs to take in lots of data coming from many different areas
The brain is very complicated and very hard to dissect
Our brains don't like technology interfering
Stimulation (like for seizures)
Stimulation through all channels
Further discussion / food for thought:
Ethical concerns such as should we tamper with the brain or unwanted manipulation (hacking)?
How will neural enhancement affect areas like science, sports, art and more? Cheating?
How will this affect the wage gap given that the best will only be available for the rich? Only the rich can be enhanced.
Could cause malfunction or radiation problems
Efficacy of off brand products. (back alley neuroimplants).
Breakdown from the commentary From Novel Technology to Novel Applications: Comment on “An Integrated Brain-Machine Interface Platform With Thousands of Channels” by Elon Musk and Neuralink by Alexander N. Pisarchik PhD, Vladimir A. Maksimenko PhD and Alexander E Hramov PhD, SD.
What are your ideas on Neuralink? Comment below!