A little far-fetched you think? Well, Elon Musk doesn’t seem to think so! The Tesla CEO has never failed to make a statement that sends waves through the Internet. Yet again, he’s come up with something that will make you stop your scrolling and read it twice. A Neuralink chip will soon be able to stream music directly into your brain.
Stream music directly into your brain
Musk recently said that Neuralink’s brain chip technology would allow you to stream music into your brain effortlessly. The Tesla CEO confirmed the feature on July 19 over an exchange with a Twitter user who asked: “If we implement Neuralink – can we listen to music directly from our chips? Great feature.” Musk replied with a simple, “yes.”
How will the chip work?
Speaking at the 2019 event, Musk said that the firm was working on a “sewing machine-like” device that would provide a direct connection between a computer and a chip inserted within the brain. Apart from the ability to stream music directly into your brain, the device would help people who’d been victims of brain diseases like Parkinson's. A research paper detailing the device claims that a single USB-C cable will provide “full-bandwidth data streaming” to the brain.
As far as getting the chip into your brain goes, it does sound like a complex procedure. To insert the chip in the brain requires removing part of the skull (yes, that’s right). The device with its electrode threads will then be fitted in the brain, according to reports. In the future, they hope to use a laser to pierce tiny holes in the skull. “One of the big bottlenecks is that a mechanical drill couples vibration through the skull, which is unpleasant, whereas a laser drill, you wouldn’t feel,” Max Hodak, Neuralink’s president told the New York Times. The threads would be considerably thinner than a human hair, some 4 to 6 μm in width. (Well, if this doesn’t sound the script of a Black Mirror episode what will!)
The Neuralink threads are less likely to damage the brain. This is because “scar tissue starts to build around the threads, a few months after insertion.” says Konrad Kording of the University of Pennsylvania, who is an expert in computational neuroscience.
The technology has been carried out trials on animals, while human trials were scheduled to be held this year. The details are yet to be made public. However, would you really insert a device into your brain!
Is the chip safe?
While the idea of having a chip in your brain might seem fascinating to the bravehearts and the AI geeks, it does come with its own set of complications. Cognitive Psychologist Susan Schneider says that AI-based enhancements could be used to supplement neural activity, but if they go as far as replacing normally functioning neural tissue, at some point they may end a person’s life.
“The worry with a general merger with AI, in the more radical sense that Musk envisions, is the human brain is diminished or destroyed,” Schneider told TNW. “Furthermore, the self may depend on the brain and if the self’s survival over time requires that there be some sort of continuity in our lives — a continuity of memory and personality traits — radical changes may break the needed continuity.”
Schneider goes on to say: “The issue is also philosophical: What is the nature of the self or mind? If the mind is just the brain, a full merger with AI wouldn’t work. I suspect those advocating a mind-machine merger think the self is a program.”
While Schneider is sceptical of Musk’s plan to turn us into robots, she adds that replacing parts of the brain with a few chips “wouldn’t have a dire impact.”
Neuralink and its wonders
Musk’s baby was founded in 2016. The San Francisco based start-up was created with a goal to have a potential symbiosis with artificial intelligence. The company also aimed to treat brain disorders in people who suffered from depression and accidents. With ambitions soaring high, Neuralink had a simple end goal: to create a brain-machine interface. A breakthrough that would enable the mind to interact directly with external processing power. Seems like you’ll soon have to ditch those headphones, as you’ll now be able to stream music directly into your brain.
Whilst the technology seems futuristic hopefully the now 5th richest man has a plan on keeping us alive.