What Is Neuralink? How It Works + Dangers & Installation
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a technological breakthrough quite like what Neuralink promises to be – but what exactly is it? and how will it work? Let’s investigate…
Neuralink is a microchip that will be surgically implanted in your brain, allowing you to connect with and even manipulate computers.
It will also aid in the research of brain electrical signals and the development of remedies to various medical conditions.
Founded by Elon Musk in 2016, the company has been working on this project ever since. Time and money will ensure this technology is perfected before its first human trials, which are expected to take place at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.
The N1 Neuralink chipset, which measures just 8mm in diameter, will be surgically implanted into the skull by a robot controlled by neurosurgeons. The N1 chip features wires that compare in size to the neurons in your brain, which is the equivalent of the diameter of your hair divided by 10. These wires house electrodes and insulation.
It has also been confirmed that more than one chip can be implanted per person to target different areas of the brain.
How Does The Neuralink N1 Chipset Work?
The initial functionality goal for those that have Neuralink’s N1 Chip “installed” will be the ability to control computers, smartphones, and various other gadgets without touching them.
To comprehend how Neuralink works, you must first grasp how neurons transmit information from your brain to other regions of your body.
These neurons in your brain create a huge network that communicates with each other via chemical signals called neurotransmitters. This interaction produces an electric field, which may be recorded by putting electrodes nearby.
The N1 chip’s purpose is to capture and trigger electrical spikes in your brain. You’ll also be able to master new talents with the help of a specialized app. It is currently unknown if Bluetooth, an alternative, or even a completely new technology will be utilized to transfer the data, but the procedure will undoubtedly be wireless.
What Will Neuralink Be Used For?
The project’s initial phase, according to the business, would focus on assisting the healthcare industry. The system will be able to assist paraplegics with simple chores such as using a phone or controlling a computer.
Some of the most exciting prospects, especially for those it will benefit, of course, will be Neuralink’s ability to restore speech, movement, and even memory.
Eventually, humans may even be able to communicate with each other without even looking at each other or opening their mouths. That’s right, we’ll be reading each other’s minds.
As concerning as that sounds, consider it this way: we’re able to think about moving our hands without actually moving them. Thinking about saying something and actually communicating it without our mouths and voices are two different processes, which will be the same with Neuralink.
We won’t simply become open books, though, and we’ll still have our privacy. The choice to share your thoughts, telepathically, will still be yours. But it is an odd thing to think that this could be a reality in just a few, short years.
How Will Neuralink Be Implanted?
Elon Musk has already explained that installing the N1 Chip into somebody’s skull is beyond the capabilities of even the most skilled neurosurgeons. Due to this fact, Neuralink will be implanted by specially created robots that will be controlled by top neuroscientists.
As expected with a chip that is installed directly into the user’s skull and connected to the brain with wires, even though it will have been rigorously tested, many people are skeptical and will likely steer clear of this technology until they feel it has been used long enough and is safe to install.
This is clearly a very complex procedure, as verified by Elon Musk, which is why Neuralink will use its specifically created robots to efficiently and precisely insert the device into the brain. The company stated that it will carry out the surgery in compliance with health ministry regulations to guarantee that it is safe.
The gadget will be put into the brain without touching any veins or arteries, thanks to the robot’s intricate design. Each electrode will be placed in a way that avoids any type of blood vessel.
The procedure will need a 2mm incision that will be dilated to 8mm. The exposed region of the skull will be covered with the chipset module when the surgery is completed. According to Musk, the installation operation may take up to two hours, and the user might be under partial anesthetic throughout the surgery.
How Has Neuralink Been Tested So Far?
You may have seen the viral video that showed a monkey playing Pong with its mind. It’s sat, looking… potentially bored, but certainly healthy, controlling the pong paddles just by looking at the screen.
The technology has not yet been put to the test on humans. A rat and a monkey were the first living individuals to achieve symbiosis. However, the majority of tests so far have in fact been carried out on pigs.
Monkeys are not only more expensive to use as study animals than pigs, but they’re also more likely to result in an ethical lawsuit. And, even when animals are used in tests, the conclusions that scientists can draw from them are fairly limited and not always worth the investment.
A pig weighs roughly 60 kilograms and possesses human-like anatomy, including organ placement, fat distribution, and even skin-hair coverage. This indicates that if something works in a pig, it is likely to function in a person as well.
Pigs have been utilized in medical research for over 30 years on this basis, and are considered a translational research subject.
If Neuralink matches Musk’s forecast, the company may go from animal testing to human trials within a year. After first discussing the aforementioned work with monkey implants in February, he stated that Neuralink hoped to start human trials by the end of 2021.
What Are The Possible Dangers Of Neuralink?
The biggest source of concern for Neuralink at the moment is its chip’s vulnerability to hacking and malicious assaults. Because of ‘digital death’, this problem will be a major source of worry for both users and the firm. The issue could cause significant injury to the person, especially if the chip is utilized for mobility; a “digital death” could make the person disabled and lead to additional injuries.
Although Elon Musk and Neuralink will put in an incredible amount of work to ensure the safety of N1 Chipset users, there are a few other possible issues, too, including AI supremacy and a rise in criminal activities as basic as fraud if hackers find a way to access the information on the Chip or the device the information is being sent to.
While these elements are totally subjective, they give a distinct perspective and viewpoint on Neuralink. Elon Musk’s celebrity has resulted in a sizable following and confidence in his products. Some people may be oblivious to the fact that everything in our world has advantages and disadvantages.
How Much Will Neuralink Cost To The Public?
It’s very likely that the N1 Chipset and its installation will begin at a very high price, as people rush to be amongst the first to have this groundbreaking technology implanted into their brains. Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? It’s difficult to tell.
Celebrities and video content creators will be clambering to be amongst the first, as the cost will likely be reimbursed through the revenue gained from showing the world what they’re now capable of.
Eventually, as this product becomes more commercially available, much like Elon’s LASIK eye surgery, Neuralink is estimated to plateau at around $2,000 – $3,000.
It’s not currently possible to give precise numbers as even the Neuralink team will not know until it is ready, but Elon Musk does have a reputation for making sure his products and services are as affordable as possible. But given the nature of this specific technology, as well as the invasive surgery required to install it, there’s no way it’ll ever cost less than $2000 at the very low-end.
If $3,000 seems expensive to you, bear in mind that high-end computers cost around this much nowadays, too, so it’s far from outside the budget of a large portion of the population. When it comes to medical applications, there will almost certainly be charitable organizations that generate funds for disabled individuals who require this technology to help them move or see, for example.
Plus, with such incredible future prospects for this revolutionary technology, who knows just how valuable an investment in the N1 Chip could be as further advancements and new possibilities emerge?