What Is Neuralink? Everything You Need To Know!!

what is neuralink

Elon Musk’s highly enthusiastic tweets have started raising awareness regarding Neurotech and its recent advancements among common folks. If you have crawled from Musk’s Twitter account, then we’re guessing you’re here to know more about his new endeavor of Neuralink. If you’re new to such a concept, then here we have elaborated on everything about Neuralink and what is Neuralink in the first place.

The aim of Elon to achieve a symbiosis between humans and machines is taking shape and Neuralink is a small step in that direction. A new future is being shaped where the human consciousness will be communicated through machines without speaking or even moving hands. 

With our brain activity, we’ll be able to communicate and convey our thoughts, and that’s the main idea behind Neuralink. Our neurons will link us to machines that will communicate our thoughts! Cool, isn’t it? So without further ado, let’s know more about Neuralink and the people behind this splendid creation.

What Is Neuralink?

what is neuralink
Image Credits: IEE Spectrum

Neuralink is a Neurotechnology and Neuroprosthetics company that is co-founded by Elon Musk and a group of other professionals dealing with neuroscience, biochemistry, and robotics. Neuralink Corp. was founded in 2016 and every whiff of information surrounding it makes the headlines of major news columns. The reason? The company’s highly ambitious aims of achieving what Elon Musk refers to as – “symbiosis with artificial intelligence”.

Neuralink was founded with the aim of creating technologies that can be used to treat people with severe brain diseases which will be later expanded to enhance human activity (the idea of transhumanism). 

The company is developing an implantable brain-machine interface (BMI), the Neuralink chip, that can be implanted in humans to stimulate and record brain activity. This breakaway in neurotech will prove to be beneficial in the field of medicine by treating severe brain diseases and spinal cord injuries. 

The quest of the project is to link a human brain to AI and FDA has rightfully regarded this project as a “breakthrough device”. Nevertheless, various critics, Neuroscientists, and even MIT Technology Review have criticized Musk’s activities creating a buzz around this technology. Nevertheless, criticism is always welcomed when it comes to the emergence of new concepts and technologies.

Even though the technology has been completed, human trials are still pending as FDA hasn’t approved this new invention yet. The possible human trials and testing of Neuralink have been delayed and if we believe Musk’s statements, then in 2022, we’ll surely see if Neuralink can deliver the expected results as the developers are hoping to achieve. 

If you wish to know more about how Neuralink works and how the whole process of Neuralink transplantation in a human brain will be carried out, then below we have carefully elaborated the key Neuralink technologies and how they will work.

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The Science Behind Working Of Neuralink

working of neuralink
Image Credits: CNET

Neuralink is planning to implant its Neuralink Chip inside a human brain to record brain activity that will allow communication between human consciousness and machines. On August 28, 2020, Elon Musk gave out a presentation on Neuralink and how it works. He even did a live show of Neuralink in action (in pigs) where the brain activity was also recorded. 

The demo gave lots of insights and answered the unanswered questions revolving around the microchip technology of Neuralink. 

But if you don’t understand how it all works? How will the Neuralink chip be transplanted and will it deliver results? We’re here to clear out the hazy cloud over your mind!

Let’s walk through the science behind the working of the Neuralink chip and discover more about this breakthrough device. 

Neuralink Technology

Before proceeding further with the working of Neuralink, let’s first recapitulate our old high school biology lessons. As you know, our brain sends and receives information through Neurons. The billions of Neurons transmit information to our brain via electric signals and bam! That’s what Neuralink needs! Neuralink needs those fire spikes of Neurons to decipher brain activity. Accordingly, Neuralink is implanted in our brain (near neurons) to record and analyze brain activity.

To be precise, ultra-thin electrodes are carefully transplanted beside the neurons to record brain activity (fire signals) which are later analyzed to decode information. The major components of Neuralink technology include probes with electrodes, a surgical robot, and an electronic device to record and analyze brain activity.

Now, you might be wondering why does Neuralink implant needs a surgical robot and not a human doctor? Well! As the electrodes are very thin, a human neurosurgeon can’t transplant the same in our brain. Keeping in mind the risk involved in the process, the Neuralink surgeries will only be done through a robot specifically designed for this purpose. To make sure that the electrodes don’t damage tissues in our brain, the surgery needs to be monitored well to yield high results. 

Moreover, for Neuralink to function successfully, the electrodes need to be transplanted near the neurons. The reason? The closer the source, the clearer the message. Thus, to get clear signals from Neurons, the electrodes need to be transplanted near the brain and thus, brain surgery becomes vital. 

This was all about how Neuralink works. Now, let’s jump to the trials of the Neuralink process and whether they were successful.

Neuralink Trials

neuralink trials
Image Credits: Youtube

Neuralink technology has already been developed and successful trials have already been performed on rodents, pigs, and even monkeys. The next major step ahead for Neuralink is obviously for the purpose the technology was developed in the first place, HUMANS! However, pending FDA approval adds to delayed plans for this brain-chip company. 

Below we have elaborated on Neuralink trials so far and the possible Neuralink human trials.

Neuralink Pig Trial

The Neuralink pig trial was shown in the live presentation done by Elon Musk. In the live telecast, three pigs were shown where one of them had a Neuralink implant for two months. Another pig shown in the trial had its Neuralink implant removed and the third pig was a normal healthy pig with no history of Neuralink implant. 

A comparison between the three showed no possible changes in the behavior of any of the pigs which demonstrated the success of Neuralink in pigs. The brain activity of the pig was recorded and clearly shown to the public. 

Neuralink Monkey Trial

The most famous Neuralink trial stands to be the popular monkey trial with a double Neuralink implant. The Neuralink Corp showed the macaque monkey with two Neuralink implants playing pong just with his brain. 

This trial created a huge buzz among Neuroscientists, critics, and other tech ethicists.

Neuralink Human Trials

With successful Neuralink animal trials, everyone is eyeing what results Neuralink human trials will have. The technology has been completed and after the FDA gives a nod, the human trials will begin. 

When Will Neuralink Be Available For Humans?

Currently, the most important question stands to be when will Neuralink human trials start! 

The Neuralink human trials have not started yet. The company had plans to do the human trials first in 2020 and then in late 2021. However, with FDA approval still pending, we don’t know when Neuralink human trials will start. 

FDA has already given a nod to the rival Brain chip interface company to implant brain chips in humans with no news on Neuralink. Although the FDA has regarded Neuralink as a “breakthrough” device, we don’t know when the much-awaited nod will come.

Nevertheless, the company is hoping to start Neuralink human trials in 2022. So let’s be patient till any further news pops up.

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Wrapping Up

Neuralink is a Neurotech company that has successfully completed its animal trials on its breakthrough chip which will link the human brain to machines. With the long-term aim of creating technology that enhances human capacity, we’re in the phase where a new future is being shaped.

As the FDA hasn’t approved the human trials of the Neuralink device, we can’t be sure when the Neuralink will be available for use. Nevertheless, if in the future, the human trials of Neuralink are successful, it will truly be a shining ray for medically challenged people. 

Featured Image Credits: Robotics Club MNNIT

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