American billionaire Ilon Musk foundedNeuralink two years ago. Then he said that the main task of the new enterprise will be to develop technologies that allow combining the human brain with the machine. We, by the way, have excellent material on this topic. Since its inception, the company has remained silent, without telling any details about its progress. Today, Ilon Musk, together with the leaders of Neuralink, gave a presentation on which he first shared the details of a new project.
How does Neuralink work?
Neuralink's immediate goal is to learn.implant special devices to paralyzed people so that they can use computers and telephones. After the operation, people, as conceived by Neuralink, will be able to “write” text messages and “flipping” pages on the Internet. One of the company's objectives is to develop a method that will allow these devices to be implanted with less damage to the brain than with the methods used today.
Neuralink has developed flexible “threads” for this.thickness from 4 to 6 micrometers, which is much thinner than a human hair. According to the company, this size reduces the risk of harm to the brain during implantation. “Filaments” contain electrodes that, after implantation, will monitor brain activity.
The thickness of the electrodes is only 1/3 the thickness of a human hair
For the implantation of "threads" in the brain, the company has developedspecial neurosurgical robot. He is able to automatically implant six “threads” in a minute, which contain a total of 192 electrodes.
The robot uses high-quality optics,which helps him not to touch blood vessels during the operation, thereby reducing the risk of inflammatory reactions. At the moment, the technology of implanting "threads" requires drilling holes in the skull, but in the future the company hopes to use lasers and do implantation without anesthesia.
Electrode implantation process
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Ilon Mask on the presentation noted one ofThe main problems of the current neurocomputer interfaces are the low bandwidth of the signal transmission from the brain to the computer and back. An early developed Neuralink prototype uses a wired USB-C connection. However, in the future, the company is going to switch to the use of wireless information transfer technology. To solve the problem, Neuralink is developing a special chip called the N1. His task will be to read, purify and amplify signals from the brain.
As the company indicates, the installation is supposedfour such chips in a human brain. Three will be located in the area of the brain responsible for motility (movement), and one in the somatosensory area (responsible for the sensation of external stimuli by our body). Wirelessly, they will be connected to an external device, which will be located behind the ear and play the role of a transmitter of information between external devices (such as smartphones and computers) and the brain. Developers plan that the system can be managed using a smartphone.
A chip that amplifies signals and sends them to a computer
Now technology tests are carried out onlaboratory animals. For the development of technology, Neuralink has engaged scientists from Stanford University to collaborate. Developers and scientists conducted at least 19 operations on laboratory rats, successfully placing the "threads" with the help of a robot surgeon in 87 percent of cases. The presentation also showed one of the experimental rats with a USB-C-port on the head, which transmitted to the computer data of the brain activity of the animal. According to Neuralink, she managed to achieve 10 times faster information transfer compared to devices from other manufacturers.
What is interesting, Musk during the presentation saidthat two people with such implants can "communicate telepathically." Of course, even if it becomes possible in some form, it will not happen in the coming years.
See also: Neurocomputer interfaces will give people extra power
When to wait for Neuralink technology on the market?
Next year, Neuralink wants to start human clinical trials. For this company must obtain permission from the Office of the Food and Drug Administration USA.
Cuts from the presentation can be viewed on the video below:
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