Elon Musk’s weird and somewhat hazy brainchild, Neuralink, conducted a “show and tell” session on Wednesday, according to the CEOs of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter. And show and tell it did, as a monkey greeted the audience by composing a message via a brain-computer interface.
The product from Neuralink captures the brain’s neurons’ activity potentials. This is accomplished by inserting an electrode sufficiently close to the synapses of 2 brain neurons and recording the electrical impulse from those synapses.
The National Institute of Health has determined that this method does not cause neuronal damage, nor does it harm the host patient where electrode is implanted. Its technical name is Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
In an ambitious initiative to help the paralysed move once again, Neuralink is working. The project would stimulate & mirror the movement centers of brain where synaptic activity no longer occurs and stimulate these centers via a computer.
Show and tell
“Welcome to Show and Tell” was typed out slowly to welcome everyone to the Neuralink event. A monkey using his brain to operate a computer was the typer. The monkey, in reality, controlled the computer through a sequence of complicated learning behaviours.
The Neuralink team explained how they trained the monkey to respond to numbers and letters on the screen. The monkey was rewarded for tracing letters and numbers, which was subsequently shifted to more sophisticated numbers & words. As a result, the monkey finally produced a sentence.
An implant in the monkey’s brain orders the translation of neural activity. By thinking about the letters, the monkey learns to control the screen.
The electrodes placed in the monkey’s brain are the key to connecting the brain and the computer. These electrodes are made of metalized fibres that are long and thin. They are thinner than human hair, measuring between 5-50 microns. They are so light that they would float away if they were dropped into the air on wind currents that were too weak to even move a hair.
Throughout the event, the term “high fidelity” refers to an excellent quality response to electric stimulation. The electrodes are recording neural activity, and signals are released from the neurons, which are subsequently captured by the chip in the computer, mapped, arranged, and replicated.
One Neuralink engineer compared the path to understanding the brain to a mile-long strip that symbolised all the things a brain is capable of. We have barely covered the first few inches of the mile-long path to understanding.
Neuralink disclosed ideas for a single implant system that could support 10,000 electrodes in a single thread of electrodes. Currently, the electrodes are implanted by a surgical robot. The patient is prepared by the neurosurgeon, and the robot subsequently places the implants into the brain. Electrode threads are too fragile to be grasped by a human hand because of their sensitive nature.
Neuralink is now moving forward by looking for human volunteers in light of these findings.
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