On Friday, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will reveal a major update of his biotech startup Neuralink and demonstrate a “working device” for the company’s hyped brain-machine interface. Neuralink’s technology, the founder claims, will “merge biological intelligence with machine intelligence” and perhaps help us survive the AI apocalypse.
Neuralink was first introduced to the public at an event in June 2019 when Musk unveiled his next big idea: implanting a wireless chip into a human brain by drilling a small hole in the skull and inserting thin, flexible “threads” of electrodes through brain tissue.
If successful, a brain implant like this could revolutionize medicine, Musk teased, such as treating brain injuries, depression, addiction and other neurological disorders.
The technology is only half the equation. Last year, Musk noted that putting a chip in someone’s head would require a neurosurgeon, which can be expensive and hard to scale. “If this is done by neurosurgeons, there’s no way it can scale to a large number of people,” Musk said in an interview.
To solve the problem of scaling expertise, Musk decided to focus on outsourcing the delicate labor to artificially intelligent robots. At Friday’s event, Neuralink is due to unveil the latest prototype of this robot surgeon and run a demo of “neurons firing in real-time,” according to Musk’s tweets.
“They don’t fire all at once. Some go several seconds to minutes without firing. Some fire several times per second,” the entrepreneur explained in a tweet on July 30, without any more context.
Neuralink is also expected to share an update on human testing and regulatory progress. The company has said clinical trials of the brain chip will start by the end of 2020. Actual adoption will be subject to FDA approvals and other regulatory reviews.
Live streaming of Friday’s Neuralink event will start at 6pm ET on the company’s YouTube channel.