Posted on Feb 06, 2020, 3 p.m.
According to Elon Musk the Neuralink device he is developing to link the brain to a computer could be implanted into a human for the first time later this year as there are plans to test the interface technology with four of its N1 chips during 2020.
Musk thinks that hooking our brains up to computers will help humans to overcome disabilities and injuries as well as eventually compete with artificial intelligence; his startup Neuralink will showcase their update to their brain computer interface technology within the upcoming weeks.
Musk has stated that this technology has already allowed a monkey to control a computer with its brain in testing, and he hopes to have the device implanted in a human patient with either brain, spinal cord injuries, or congenital defects by year end.
"The profound impact of high bandwidth, high precision neural interfaces is underappreciated. Neuralink may have this in a human as soon as this year," Musk tweeted, adding later: "Wait until you see the next version vs what was presented last year. It's *awesome*."
There will be a live update event sometime in the summer of 2020, but don’t expect this technology to be available anytime soon. Even Musk agrees that there are important steps to take first such as making sure that it is safe to use, then determining the greatest utility vs risk. Moving from initial work to production and approval then implantation is a very long and bumpy road.
If Neuralink makes it past FDA approval Musk has hopes that it will be revolutionary for patients:
"It will ultimately be used to make up for entire lost sections of the brain due to stroke/accident/congenital. Don't want to get too excited, but the potential is truly transformational for restoring brain & motor functions. There is no other way to do it imo,” writes Musk.
According to Musk at first this technology will be designed to assist patients with certain conditions, but ultimately his long term goal is to utilize the technology so that humans can keep up with artificial intelligence that think faster than humans, and eventually the technology will allow humans to merge with AI.
To some this all sounds great, to others the long term goals sounds like the stuff SciFi movie nightmares are made from, and others worry about the loss of individuality, privacy, and security of a merged AI-human collective. For now this is still in early stages, but regardless of your thoughts about it, this is one worth keeping an eye on.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.