Tesla CEO Elon Musk tapped into an unexplored realm of technology, introducing a chip capable of repairing motor functions via telepathic brain connections.
The device is known as Neuralink and will comprise of a minuscule computer chip connected to 1,000 wires measuring approximately one-tenth the width of a human hair.
The chip features an accessible USB-C port, the same adapter used by Apple’s (AAPL) Macbooks. The device will be Bluetooth centered, connecting to a small computer worn over the user’s ear and to a smartphone.
Musk claims that the device will enable telepathy and provide the potential to repair motor functions for people with brain injuries. Musk also credited the device with providing remedies for people who suffer from degenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Neuralink can also be utilized as a memory enhancer or to assist cancer patients, stroke victims, and quadriplegics.
Musk first unveiled the new device in a livestreamed launch event on Tuesday.
“Unless we have some sort of brain machine interface that can solve brain ailments of all kinds, whether it’s an accident or congenital or any kind of brain related disorder or a spine disorder — if you know somebody who’s broken their neck or broken their spine — we can solve that with a chip,” Musk explains during the event. “And this is something that I think most people don’t quite understand yet.”
Neuralink is a start-up company and claims that up to 10 units can be placed in a patient’s brain. The chips will connect to an iPhone app that the user can control via neuron impulses originating from one’s brain.
According to Musk, Neuralink will be installed by a specially designed robot built by the startup. The robot, when operated by a surgeon, will drill 2-millimeter holes into a person’s skull. The chip portion of the device will plug the hole in the patient’s skull and operate wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Preliminary trials are likely to begin by 2020. Neuralink represents a drastic change of heart by Musk toward artificial intelligence (AI) interfaces, as he has previously warned of the dangers that AI could pose against mankind. (RELATED: Pablo Escobar’s Brother Says Elon Musk Ripped Him Off — Get Your Own Flamethrower)
Google and Facebook are reportedly attempting to develop similar technology, sparking worry by critics that customers shouldn’t trust powerful tech companies with data ported directly from the brain.
“The idea of entrusting big enterprise with our brain data should create a certain level discomfort for society,” said Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research. “There is no evidence that we should trust or be comfortable with moving in this direction.”
The progression of Neuralink will be monitored by the FDA and various academic partners at the University of California Davis, serving as moderators during the stages of development.
While specifically geared toward solving mental injuries and diseases, Musk envisions that nearly everyone around the world will one day get these types of implants in order to keep up with artificial-intelligence technology.