Elon Musks’ Neuralink plans to implant brain threads



Marc Rothmeyer

Are you really excited about this breathtaking technology to work with human brains?

The world is now embracing the might and influence of entrepreneurship ability. A lot of entrepreneurship stories are coming up and people are taking inspiration beyond the demarcations. But most promisingly, Elon Musk, known for his efforts to revolutionize transportation both on Earth and in space, has a lot to show off over the past 25 years. It includes projects like SpaceX, Tesla Motors, PayPal, Hyperloop, SolarCity, Electric Jet, Zip2, and others. These projects have changed the face of technology, innovation, & creativity.

Now after these path-breaking innovations, Elon Musks’ Neuralink, which was found to develop a data transmission system between people and computers, is claiming that threads can be implanted in human brains with much less potential impact on the surrounding brain tissue vs what is currently trending in use to establish brain-computer interfaces.

“Most people don’t realize, we can solve that with a chip,” Musk said to kick off Neuralink’s event, talking about some of the brain disorders and issues the company hopes to solve.

They have already demonstrated that they can record a rat’s brain activity via thousands of tiny electrodes surgically implanted alongside the animal’s neurons and synapses. Now their next target is humans. They have already unveiled their plans to implant paralyzed patients with electrodes that allow them to augment their minds from computers. 

Musk also laid the long-term plans associated with Neuralink. He has influenced that it is about figuring out a way to achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence. For now, the prime aim is medical and the plan is to empower robots that Neuralink has created.

These robots will function as sewing machines to implement these threads into the human brain. These threads which are meant to be implanted deep within a person’s brain tissue are pretty much thin (4 and 6μm) which means about one-third the diameter of the thinnest human hair). If it happens exactly as per the course, then it will be capable of performing both read and write operations at very high data volume.  

When it comes to its real significance in the healthcare sector, Neuralink co-founder & president Max Hodak revealed some more details. It can be used in potential applications enabling amputees to regain mobility via the use of prosthetics, reversion of vision, hearing, or other sensory deficiencies. The team behind Neuralink has plans to begin work with human test subjects. They are in talks to establish a collaboration with neurosurgeons at Stanford and other institutions.

The current technology of Neuralink actually works by drilling micro holes into a subject’s skull to insert the ultra-thin threads. But the technology nerds believe that it will be replaced by lasers that are less invasive and most importantly, non-felt by a patient.

To put some weight behind their claim, Neuralink demonstrated a lab experiment in the data from the rat was gathered via a USB-C port on its head. Amazingly, it provided 10x more data on what the best sensor can deliver currently.

However, some scientists have a critical view of the feasibility of this concept. They have some suspicion over the longevity of the threads used. They have a view that when these threads are exposed to the brain, which also contains a salt mix fluid, can degrade plastics over time. But the minds behind Neuralink are claiming to deal with these issues in their upcoming developments.

Another suspicion that has taken over the minds is that lots of treatments that work in rodents have failed to do anything substantial in the case of humans. This suspicion here is valid because Neuralink has revealed nothing about testing its technology on primates. Neuralink has to ensure safe & sound therapies, apart from implant function.

If the approvals follow the course, Neuralink’s electrodes, once placed in the holes in a patient’s skull, are supposed to register brain activity and relay it to a small device implanted behind the ear that transmits the data to a computer.

Bottom Line:

Without a shadow of a doubt, this whole idea and concept are extraordinary. But we can’t reach any conclusion until this technology this ready to test its brain implants on human patients. Naturally, the team of Neuralink including Elon Musk is excited about it and keen to make fast progress. But it can be risky to play with the human brain and augmenting is a task to cut. 

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