Neuralink is developing the capabilities of the brain through technological augmentation. A "neural lace” would be surgically connected to a human brain and allow a user to interact with a computer without the bandwidth challenges that come with current input methods, including keyboards, mice and trackpads. Neuralink will explore how brain interfaces might alleviate the symptoms of dangerous and chronic medical conditions.
EquityZen's Take on Neuralink
Neuralink, a secretive company developing brain-machine interfaces and founded by Elon Musk, finally showed off some of its technology in a July 2019 presentation to the public. The goal is to eventually begin implanting devices in paralyzed humans, allowing them to control things like computers and smartphones.
This will be done via “threads” that are thinner than a piece of hair and capable of transferring electrodes to the brain. These threads are less likely to damage the brain than materials that are currently used for brain-machine interfaces, making them a safer technology.
Musk indicated that the reveal and presentation were not for hype, but rather intended to recruit new employees to the startup.
Brain-machine interface devices are not new - in 2006 Matthew Nagel played Pong using only his mind using a system called BrainGate that was originally developed by Brown University. Neuralink openly admits to piggybacking off the initial technology and a long history of academic work in this area.
Neuralink continues to work with rats to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their technology, but Musk admitted during the presentation that a monkey was able to control a computer with its brain. Neuralink hopes to have their device planted in a human patient by the end of 2020 pending FDA approval.
As with anything dealing with the brain, the technology is extremely technical and Neuralink rightly admits that they have a long way to go before offering any sort of commercial service. But that has not stopped Musk from pouring $100 million (of $158 million raised) of his own funds into the company. Musk is known for pushing the boundaries of technology and humanity, and Neuralink is another opportunity for him to do so.