Neuralink is set to be one of the biggest technological advancements in decades – but once it has been installed, can it be removed? Let’s take a look…
Since 2016, Elon Musk and the Neuralink team have been creating a chip that can be implanted into the human skull and connected to the brain to serve a variety of purposes. Initially, it will be used to control smartphones, computers and various other gadgets without even needing to touch them.
In the future, Neuralink’s N1 Chip is expected to aid in the medical field, too, by assisting paraplegics with their everyday tasks, restoring vision in the blind and even reversing the effects of degenerative brain diseases.
Neuralink’s capacity to restore speech, movement, and perhaps even memory will be among the most intriguing prospects, especially for the people it will assist.
But what if those that have had Neuralink installed have changed their minds? Or there’s a dangerous defect discovered and it’s no longer safe to use?
Can The Neuralink Chip Be Removed?
People who have had the Neuralink N1 Chip implanted will be able to have it removed at any time, however, this will almost certainly involve further surgery and equipment fees. We anticipate that there will be no additional costs if the chip needs to be removed as a consequence of any issues. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the chip will need to be removed after 10 years of use anyway.
There are yet to have been any human trials with Neuralink and most of the trials so far have been on pigs as they possess anatomy that resembles that of a human in a number of ways.
One pig, called Dorothy, seems a very normal pig. Dorothy has had the chip installed and removed with no apparent side effects. This doesn’t mean there are no potential side effects listed though.
Elon Musk has indicated that the potential side effects of either the installation or removal of Neuralink include some concerning ailments:
- Extreme pain
- Memory loss
- Hearing loss
- Brain damage
How Is Neuralink Initially Installed?
Even the most competent neurosurgeons will be unable to implant the N1 Chip into someone’s skull, as Elon Musk has already stated. As a result, Neuralink will be implanted by specially designed robots under the supervision of prominent neuroscientists.
Many people will be dubious of a chip that is implanted directly into the user’s skull and wired to the brain, even though it will have been thoroughly tested. They will likely avoid this equipment until it has been used long enough and has proven safe and healthy.
As the company has confirmed, this is a fairly complicated surgery, which is why Neuralink will utilise its specially designed robots to inject the device into the brain efficiently and accurately. According to the corporation, the procedure will be performed in accordance with government health rules to ensure safety.
The Neuralink robot will implant the module into your brain using a microscope and needles with a diameter of just 24 microns. These needles are so little that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. Approximately 10,000 electrodes will be implanted into the brain through the N1 chip affixed to the skull during this procedure.
What Does The Neuralink Chip Look Like?
When the project first launched, the original plan, and design, was a gadget that was to be implanted behind the ear that featured wires that reached around to a specific part of the brain.
Now, the Neuralink N1 Chipset has been dramatically simplified, resembling a coin attached to what appears to be a small number of wires that are in fact over a thousand electrode threads.
Instead of behind the ear, Neuralink will now be attached directly to the top of the skull and connected to the brain.
The latest prototype, known as version 0.9, is 23 millimetres by eight millimetres in size and includes 1024 electrode strands that are inserted into the brain. It is intended to replace a coin-sized part of the skull and fit flat with the surface, making it virtually undetectable. It would be charged inductively, similar to how a wristwatch or phone would be charged wirelessly.
It’s entirely possible that the design could change again before human trials begin, but naming the current prototype “version 0.9” implies they believe the current design will be extremely close to the final product.
When Will Neuralink Be Commercially Available?
If Neuralink reaches the company’s original projection, the company might go from monkey studies to human trials by the end of 2021. After first disclosing his work with monkey implants in February, he stated the business hoped to start human trials by the end of the year.
After a man who had been paralysed from the shoulders down in a car accident presented himself as a prospective candidate for the initial human testing, Mr Musk reiterated this timeframe target with a conversation on Twitter.
The Twitter user said: “Hi @elonmusk, I’ve been thinking for a long time how to write this to you – but I’ll keep it very simply:
I was in a car accident 20 years ago and have been paralyzed from the shoulders ever since. I’m always available for clinical studies at @Neuralink.
Please get in touch!”.
Elon responded the following evening: “Neuralink is working super hard to ensure implant safety & is in close communication with the FDA. If things go well, we might be able to do initial human trials later this year”.
Jake is a professional copywriter, journalist, and life-long fan of technology. He covers news and user guides for KnowYourMobile.