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Elon Musk’s Neuralink

Flyaway

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Elon Musk aspires to make inserting a computer connection into your brain as safe and painless as Lasik eye surgery.

On Tuesday evening, Neuralink, a company in which Mr. Musk has invested $100 million, detailed the baby steps it has taken toward that goal. Neuralink described a “sewing machine-like” robot that can implant ultrathin threads deep into the brain.

The company is hoping to begin working with human subjects as soon as the second quarter of next year.

The company claims the system will eventually be capable of reading and writing vast amounts of information. But as with many of Mr. Musk’s other ventures, like spaceships or futuristic tunnels, one of the biggest challenges may be for his scientists to match his grand vision.

 

sferrin

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Wonder if it'd act like an antenna and do all kinds of weird crap. Drive under a power line and suddenly you're off on a DMT trip or something.
 

DWG

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Wonder if it'd act like an antenna and do all kinds of weird crap. Drive under a power line and suddenly you're off on a DMT trip or something.

Plenty of people out and about wired for Deep Brain Stimulation, mostly for seizure control. Plus people with cochlear implants for severe hearing impairments. And, while not brain related, pacemakers galore. There are more cyborgs out there than people realise. If there were problems we'd probably know by now.
 

edwest2

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He's not practical. But, when you have all that money... I'd never get this.
 

edwest2

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He should. Wall Street is after him to stop his science fiction projects.
 

edwest2

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They do. If Wall Street won't support him he may have to go into real estate.
 

fredymac

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Neuralink video explaining what it is and how it works. I would have to think that Neuralink must be working with the Allen Brain Institute on this. As far as I know, mapping the "connectome" has a long way to go.

Neuralink video

Allen Institute video
 

sferrin

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They do. If Wall Street won't support him he may have to go into real estate.


If, if, if. Obviously they ARE supporting him. (Or do you seriously believe Tesla and SpaceX are going to go belly up?)
 

Foo Fighter

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Deep brain implant for seizure control does not mean the human becomes a cyborg. I thought this forum was for people open to technology and it's uses. Perhaps I'm wrong.
 

Flyaway

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Deep brain implant for seizure control does not mean the human becomes a cyborg. I thought this forum was for people open to technology and it's uses. Perhaps I'm wrong.
You should keep away from Twitter then as some of the responses to this news are rather scary.
 

Archibald

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Wonder if it'd act like an antenna and do all kinds of weird crap. Drive under a power line and suddenly you're off on a DMT trip or something.

Tinfoil hat, obviously, might be the answer. ROTFL
 

TomS

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Deep brain implant for seizure control does not mean the human becomes a cyborg.

Well, technically, it does. So do cochelar implants, advanced prosthetic limbs, and a bunch of other useful technologies. (hat tip to DWG above). Doesn't mean we should shun them, or that we should take Musk's ambitions as a given. Brain interface is really difficult, especially because we don't have a good understanding of what all the parts of the brain do (and how) even in "normal" functioning. (Normal in quotes, because there's a lot of variability even in so-called neurotypical brains.)
 

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Deep brain implant for seizure control does not mean the human becomes a cyborg.

Well, technically, it does. So do cochelar implants, advanced prosthetic limbs, and a bunch of other useful technologies. (hat tip to DWG above).

Missed Foo Fighter's initial comment, but thanks for the credit and I agree absolutely. I've been calling myself an occasional cyborg for years - I used to use a TENS machine for pain control and while those are wired externally you do get implanted variants - spinal cord stimulators. Implanted technology is widely used in medicine and disability, and the boundaries get very fuzzy - is an osteo-integrated prosthetic limb internal or external? What about cameras feeding to electrodes attached to the optic nerve? And if they count, then shouldn't we count the purely external variants as well? Is a C-Leg prosthetic any different if it connects via an osteo-integrated mounting rather than a conventional socket?

Lots of us cyborgs out there.
 

Foo Fighter

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What degree of implant is required before the title is merited? Modern hybrid cars can mostly be driven electrically but cannot be called electric cars for example.
 

edwest2

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This may be possible in the future but too little is known about the human brain and its natural wiring. In the area of prosthetics, the 'Luke Arm,' commissioned by DARPA and then developed (partly?) by the company DEKA (DEan KAmen), is now available here: https://www.mobiusbionics.com/luke-arm/

Further research with prosthetics, including those for hearing, will add to the knowledge base. I think Mr. Musk is being too optimistic, unless he has technology on hand he has not yet mentioned.
 

Foo Fighter

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I agree about the research and in the same way we need to research the use of T lymphocytes and grow spare organs etc from the tissue of the recipient which would remove the need for any of those pesky anti rejection chemicals flooding the body. I think that both types of research have demonstrated a lot of progress over the last ten years but more needs to be done
 

edwest2

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The following carefully worded article has all the earmarks of a highly disruptive technology, or, perhaps not. Vagueness may indicate importance or not.

 

edwest2

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Only parts of the above are factual, the rest is speculative and second-hand. Only a few days from what might be a big reveal or a partial letdown. If Mr. Musk actually believes what he's saying about AI then he's in trouble. He should stick to using AI only for devices, not people.

As far as rushing things, nothing new there. Investors want results, including those who have a clear grasp of the situation. In a report concerning guided missiles published in May 1946, it stated that 'what normally takes years has to be done in months.' Why? The threat of the USSR.

Mr. Musk claims his device can help people. And maybe it can. A short time before he reveals something more substantive.
 

Flyaway

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All seems a bit underwhelming in light of the hype he’s been giving it of late.

 

fredymac

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The potential is significant. The part showing the ability to decode brain signals to the muscle (8:55 mark in video) indicates they will be able to synthesize motor commands to cure paralysis.

On the other hand, unintended consequences like embedding fake memories or direct stimulation of pleasure centers (drug abuse or porn addict alternatives) will certainly attract 3rd parties offering "modifications" in these areas.

 

sferrin

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The potential is significant. The part showing the ability to decode brain signals to the muscle (8:55 mark in video) indicates they will be able to synthesize motor commands to cure paralysis.

On the other hand, unintended consequences like embedding fake memories or direct stimulation of pleasure centers (drug abuse or porn addict alternatives) will certainly attract 3rd parties offering "modifications" in these areas.

"Strange Days", "Brainstorm", etc.
 

Dilandu

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On the other hand, unintended consequences like embedding fake memories or direct stimulation of pleasure centers (drug abuse or porn addict alternatives) will certainly attract 3rd parties offering "modifications" in these areas.

Well, of course there would be abuses - but they are also the reason to put more effort in exploring said technology, so we would be able to counter such kind of abuses efficiently.
 

edwest2

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The advance hype did not appear in the actual presentation. Mr. Musk had obviously considered the potential of the device but it's clear that it's actual application will require the development of new technologies and proposed old technologies. Instead, the viewers got happy pigs and "look, we can record these signals coming from this pig." The only good piece of information was that the FDA has cleared the device for use in humans. When will that happen? Unknown. Or how about an old idea like running a connector across the severed portion of a spinal cord? But it's not ready to perform any miracles right now.
 

fredymac

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At 11:10 mark they discuss enrolling patients with paralysis so it sounds like something already in the works with the eventual goal of a spinal "shunt" to get the signals relayed to the muscles. What matters most is the ability to decode the synapse signals. Mapping and correlating synapse activity to specific functions or even thoughts is the breakthrough everyone has been trying to achieve for over a decade.
 

edwest2

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Everything was very vague. No timetable was established for anything. As far as any sort of breakthrough, that was not explained. The Luke Arm is a prosthetic arm connected directly to the patient and it is in use now. Progress is being made with prosthetics but this, for lack of a better term, signal processing device has no present commercial applications. I watched a demonstration of a person who could not walk, walking with the aid of electrical contacts connected to the skin at key points.
 

fredymac

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Everything was very vague. No timetable was established for anything. As far as any sort of breakthrough, that was not explained. The Luke Arm is a prosthetic arm connected directly to the patient and it is in use now. Progress is being made with prosthetics but this, for lack of a better term, signal processing device has no present commercial applications. I watched a demonstration of a person who could not walk, walking with the aid of electrical contacts connected to the skin at key points.


"No present commercial applications". And yet Musk is spending money on it along with other private investors. Unless you think Musk is doing it for laughs or just likes attention, he has some financial return in mind.

The Luke arm can be driven by electromyographic signals rather than by reading/decoding brain synapses. This is a far more rudimentary level of control. The closest analog I have seen are people wearing hair nets studded with capacitors which produce a far coarser reading of EEG state. To get a full 3D, spatially resolved map of synapse activity, the microscopic wires used by Neuralink will be needed unless someone comes up with some ultra sensitive tomographic sensor that doesn't occupy a room and weigh a ton.
 
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