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Secretive Company Musk Has Sunk $100M Into Opens Up

Neuralink gives presentation on its brain-reading technology
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2019 9:13 AM CDT
In this March 14, 2019, file photo Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks before unveiling the Model Y at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. Musk says in an internal memo that Tesla has enough orders to set...   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – "We want this burden of stealth mode off of us so that we can keep building and do things like normal people, such as publish papers." And with that, Neuralink shrugged off the secrecy that has surrounded it since its 2017 launch. On Tuesday it went public with the progress it has made toward its goal of connecting brains with computers, releasing a white paper and giving a presentation on its work thus far, reports USA Today. Elon Musk has sunk $100 million into the company and has said the vision is to make the implantation as routine as Lasik surgery, reports the New York Times. That future isn't imminent: The company says it hopes human trials can begin in Q2 of 2020. Musk himself weighed in on Tuesday night. More:

  • Neuralink says Stanford University neurosurgeons will get in on the experiments, which will initially require a surgeon to drill holes into the skull to facilitate the placement of super thin threads of electrodes near neurons in the brain. That method can involve an "unpleasant" vibration during the procedure, explains the company, which hopes to eventually employ lasers instead.
  • Bloomberg reports the human trials would involve drilling four 8mm holes into the skulls of paralyzed patients; the goal is to have them control computers and smartphones by just thinking of doing so.
  • The threads contain electrodes that would be tasked with picking up brain activity from the neurons and transmitting it to a device implanted behind the ear that interfaces with a computer. The Verge cites the paper's explanation that the system could feature "as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads."

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