Neuralink – the future of human intelligence?

Neuralink – the future of human intelligence?
Have you ever forgotten something important, or known that you just can’t remember a memory fully? Have you ever remembered something differently to others with that same memory and wondered which version is correct? Or better yet, have you ever wanted to communicate without language and speech? These are just a fraction of the possible applications Elon’s Musk’s Neuralink could do. The technology, he colloquially calls a ‘fitbit for your brain’, has been in development since 2016 and shows the potential to change the way we interact with the world around us.

The idea behind the Neuralink is that the device will be able to read neuronal activity accurately and can then act on this data. This means that a formally paralysed person could, in theory, use their limbs again. Other problems such as blindness or deafness can also be eradicated. In its essence, a Neuralink is a very small brain-machine interface that has the capacity to handle an abundance of data with no problem. It has been designed as a way for humans to better understand the way that our brains work and eventually use this data to improve wellbeing.

How does Neuralink work exactly?

Imagine all the sensors that are available in smart devices, heart rate detection, temperature detection and more, but for your brain instead. Essentially, a Neuralink is a brain wearable that will be able to monitor your health and warn you about possible issues. But there is more to it than that, much more. Imagine your phone completely connected to your brain. Instant access to memories that were once lost, which is particularly interesting for those suffering from memory loss diseases. Other applications include the elimination of depression and anxiety, addictive behaviours can be eradicated and so much more.

Elon envisions that it can be inserted into a coin sized pocket of the skull. Essentially, the procedure will take around an hour and is carried out by robots. They will open up a piece of the skull, place the electrodes into that pocket and super glue it back together after. The device itself looks like a 1 Euro sized coin with tiny threads that come from it. The threads are the electrons that will be inserted into the brain and can record neurons as they fire. So far, the devices have been tested on pigs in a laboratory and have been remarkably accurate at predicting the movements of the pigs. The devices seem to be safe for the animals and have shown very promising results.

What’s in store for the future

It has been reported that Elon Musk plans for these devices to be able to help humans become more like AI machines and utilise the best of both worlds. The Neuralink implant is expected to become a sort of digital coating above the brain and can act as a sort of connection between human brain abilities and those of AI machines. It is believed that one of the main reasons behind the innovation is to stave off the potential power and total control that Artificial Intelligence could one day have. The Neuralink will be a way for humans to keep up with the ever-increasing intelligence of the digital world so that we won’t get left behind.

The biggest problems that this technology faces are the small amount of neurons that it can actually access and control. With over 100 billion neurons in the brain, the Neuralink has a lot of ground to cover before it can even come close to artificially stimulating neurons, never mind understanding how neurons work.

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