Elon Musk's New Brain Tech Involves Drilling Holes In Skulls
The human brain has a "bandwidth problem", Elon Musk claims -- and he wants to see it become symbiotic with AI technology.
In July 2016, Musk founded a company known as Neuralink Corp, which was dedicated to created "ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers".
At an event at the California Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, Musk said the company was well on its way to ensuring that human existence will not be threatened by AI surpassing our intelligence.
Neuralink announced that the company had designed small "threads" thinner than a human hair, which can be injected into the brain to detect neuronal activity.
The company said it has invented a robot to complete this procedure, which is capable of inserting six threads per minute automatically.
However, the process will require drilling small holes in the skull -- which Neuralink asserted is just as safe as a Lasik eye procedure. The company hopes to develop a process of using laser beams to enter the skull, rather than drilling holes.
The threads will connect wirelessly to a module that will sit at the back of the ear, much like a hearing aid, which can be controlled through a phone app. However, the company has only created a custom chip so far that connects to the threads via a USB-C and wired structure.
The goal? Musk wants to eventually be able to implant devices into the brains of people with physical disabilities to allow them to control phones and computers with their brainwaves alone.
The threads also allow for the possibility of transferring a higher volume of data more rapidly.
Neuralink's president Max Hodak said the threads will advance on brain communication technology established by cochlear implants and deep brains stimulation treatments currently used for Parkinson's disease.
"Neuralink didn't come out of nowhere," Hodak said.
"We're, in the greatest sense, building on the shoulders of giants."
While the company has only tested the device on animals so far, they hope to have FDA approval for human trials by 2020 in patients with "serious unmet medical diseases".
Musk has revealed that Neuralink has is currently conducting studies with monkeys at the University of California, Davis after trials using rats -- a practice Musk and Hodak admitted was a "sensitive issue".
Musk joked during the conference, "We need to address the elephant in the room, the monkey in the room," he said.
"A monkey has been able to control the computer with his brain. Just FYI."