Word in the tech world is that Elon Musk, the business visionary in charge of SpaceX and Tesla, is on the verge of launching a new venture aimed at developing an implantable computer-brain interface device. Neuralink Corp. has no official public presence yet, but Musk acknowledged its existence Tuesday on Twitter.
The tech world is buzzing this week with news that Elon Musk's newest venture aspires to link artificial intelligence with the human brain, via an implantable chip.
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According to the Wall Street Journal, the ambitious CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is now involved with a very early-stage company known as Neuralink Corp., which was funded last year as a medical research company in California. The company has no official public presence yet, and a visit to www.neuralink.com reveals only an email address, email@example.com.
Musk has acknowledged the company's existence on Twitter, however. "Long Neuralink piece coming out on @waitbutwhy in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to," he tweeted Tuesday, referring to a blog called Wait But Why by Tim Urban.
The new venture is reportedly interested in developing implantable brain devices that could eventually help humans merge with computer software in order to keep up with advancements in AI.
Currently, the closest thing the medtech field has to such technology is deep brain stimulation devices that are primarily used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's, epilepsy, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Challenges to developing an implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) device are numerous, and it would likely take years for any company -- even one supported by a business visionary like Musk -- to get such a device anywhere near human trials.
But that doesn't mean there hasn't been extraordinary progress in this area. A group of Stanford researchers recently revealed the fruits of 15 years' worth of labor in this area. The group has been working on a BCI that they say can be implanted into the brain to help restore speech and movement abilities to patients suffering from paralysis or severe movement disabilities.
Another noteworthy BCI advancement came in 2015 when doctors from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio used a wireless BCI system in tandem with electrodes implanted into the arm of a patient to restore movement to a once-paralyzed limb. Brown University researchers have also explored using wireless transmitters to help people perform thought-controlled tasks.
Amanda Pedersen is Qmed's news editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Image courtesy of Pixabay]