A story is told about an African American boy who had an uncanny reputation of being a peeping tom except his perversion did not involve sexual gratification, rather it involved learning how to turn pennies into millions. The boy spent most of his time watching white successful men multiply their income almost effortlessly. Even as he worked as a shoe shiner, he paid attention as his customers, white wealthy men, went on and on about the nooks and crannies of the economy and how to them a recession in the economy was an excellent opportunity for a boom. When he had scrounged away enough money, him and his family moved out of Texas where the color of your skin determined how heavy your pockets were at that time. Once he arrived at his new destination, the man sadly learnt that he still could not escape the hue of his skin. A bank estranged him, denying him the stepstool he required to grasp his dream. After sleepless nights and a handshake with the devil, the man owned that same bank that closed the door on his behind. He went on to use the knowledge he had mustered over the years as a spy and turned his pennies into millions. It was not easy infiltrating the white community but he found a way, a way that made him an icon of his time. Bernard Garret Jr is a name history will never forget. Another name that will never elude our minds or the electronic archives is Elon Musk.
Musk is known for his grandiose ambition in technology and nomenclature. NASA recruited him and his SpeceX team to build a human genial moon lander for project Artemis. We are also quite aware of his successful automobile company, Tesla, the company that recently soared him up the global billionaire listing. Then his wife gave birth to a baby boy and they named him X Æ A-12 Musk. Just when I thought naming a child “Pyramid” was a tad eccentric, Elon Musk and Grimes went ahead and named their son after a car plate. For those who have read and followed his life story, you know that this man hardly ever sleeps. He is always plotting, always creating the next big thing. Well, ladies and gentlemen, Elon Musk has done it again.
Elon Musk started a company called Neuralink a while ago, 3 years to be exact, and it created a lot of buzz worldwide. The company was hatched with the sole goal of humans achieving symbiosis with artificial intelligence. The concept of this entity surrounds the constructing of a brain computer interface (BCI) that is meant to facilitate direct communication between computers and our brains. I mean can you imagine being able to flick on the lights with your brain? How cool is that?
It is therefore not surprising that a colossal of people around the world are eagerly awaiting the Neuralink demo event on Friday which has been rumored to entail the thrilling announcement of the beginning of human trials this year.
Elon Musk will unveil the company’s progress over the past year during this event and he has confirmed that there will be a live demonstration of neurons firing. Honestly, I cannot wait to see what these ingenuous minds have put together and whether this innovation will actually revolutionize medicine as predicted by the company.
You must be wondering, how does all this work and what is with all the fuss surrounding human trials?
How BCI actually works
Remember how I mentioned that the whole idea here is to facilitate direct communication between our brains and computers? Well this is to be done using a robot which will be programmed to surgically install the BCI. You see the BCI, in order to work, has to be implanted in your skull so that miniature wires can be inserted inside your brain. Cringe worthy huh?
The company has dedicated their time in building arrays of puny and pliable threads with as many as 3,702 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads. Our robot here plays the role of a neurosurgeon, inserting these small and flexible threads in human skulls. It is said that the robots have the ability of inserting 6 threads (192 electrodes) per minute. Yes, a single minute.
Now each of these threads can be individually inserted in your brain with micron precision so as to target specific brain regions. The electrode array is actually packaged into a tiny implantable device that contains custom chips for low-power-on-board amplification and digitization. A single package, 3,702 channels, only occupies less than (2318.52)mm3, not as much space as you thought huh?
The company plans to use a single USB-C cable to provide data streaming from devices which will in return record from all channels simultaneously. Brilliant huh? Having a USB-C cable sticking out your head?
After Friday’s event, we will get a solid feel of how all this is going to be plausible.
Why this innovation is revolutionary
For years, varied individuals have tried to create a panacea to health problems stemming from the human brain. Elon Musk’s creation is not exactly the first of its kind. The thing is, none of the BCI innovations took off from the ground and many speculated that this creation was simply impractical. Neuralink is promising that it is not.
This device is designed in such a way that it can be used to deliver intracranial stimulation and basically any other brain related medical treatments. Their aim for the field of medicine is to solve all health problems emanating from the brain i.e. the nervous system, mental health etc. Elon Musk has made bold claims pertaining this device saying that it will be able to cure strokes, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, depression and autistic disorders. We all know how these ailments snuff the life our of the living, being able to find a cure for them will completely revolutionize medicine.
Apart from this, there could also be a conjunction with advanced assistive devices which generally involves a person being able to control artificial limbs and other prosthetics using their thoughts. If at all Elon Musk achieves his goal of symbiosis, transhumanism will become an actual thing. This means that sometime in the future, humans will be able to control external devices with their minds, transmit thoughts directly to another person’s brain and even heighten cognitive abilities such that you can increase your own intelligence and memory capacity! Exciting isn’t it? Think about it, you won’t need to whip out your phone and call or text someone, you can just use your artificial telepathic abilities!
The whole fuss surrounding human trials exists because it finally means that BCI is taking off from the ground. We can only pray for its success. Personally, I would like to see people with autistic disorders enjoy color and sound.
Set the date people! August 28th is an event you don’t want to miss.
So far, what celebrity child’s name has stricken you as strange over the years?
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