In March 2017, Elon Musk announced a new venture. Unlike SpaceX, Tesla, and even tunnel-digging startup The Boring Company, Neuralink doesn't look to remedy deep societal woes — merely the continuation of the species. Hopefully, it has fewer fiery mishaps during testing.
Neuralink, which now has offices in San Francisco and Austin, is working on a brain-machine interface that will connect human brains to computers. Initially, the technology could change the lives of patients with brain or spinal injuries, but Musk believes the company could eventually achieve human and artificial intelligence symbiosis. The goal of Neuralink isn't simply a human-machine interface, but a fast, or high-bandwidth, connection between the two.
Neuralink's tech starts with a puck (microchip) with threads that have tiny electrodes at the ends which are implanted near a neuron in the brain.
The big news this month wasn't human, but it was close.
According to CNBC, Neuralink successfully connected a monkey that can play video games with its mind. The team implanted a computer chip into the monkey’s skull and threaded the nanowires into its brain.
According to Musk, the startup is trying to use the implants to get monkeys to play “mind Pong” with one another.
For those with fears of AI-human intervention, Musk contends that many people are already a form of cyborg with a "digital layer" that exists because we are tethered to our phones and other devices.
According to Musk, Neuralink only wants to make that connection faster — by an order of magnitude of 1,000, maybe even 10,000. For example, you could look up the trivia for Hell Comes to Frogtown on IMDB and recommend it to your friend across the country without ever reaching for a device. Think a form of digital telepathy.
The other endgame? Immortality, or at least a "saved state" that could download your brain or data into another robot or maybe even another human. Other nightmare crisis scenarios aside, does your partner stay with your consciousness after it leaves the vessel? Start that one at the dinner table tonight.
Within the next month, Musk anticipates more news to come out of the startup, possibly from patients controlling devices using only their minds.
As for the monkey's well-being, Musk insists, "it’s not an unhappy monkey.”