What Neuralink is, What it Does, Why it’s Awesome
A quick and simple explanation of this revolutionary device
The neuralink is a tiny computer about the size of a quarter that attaches to the outside of your skull. 1024 microscopic tendrils connect to 1024 different neurons in your brain. The device then gives you read and write access to those 1024 neurons. At its core that’s really all there is to it.
It can Bluetooth into your phone and give you a readout on what those neurons are doing and allow you to stimulate those neurons as you please. It’s a very simple interface to the ones and zeros of your brain. It’s only a teeny tiny percentage of the neurons in your brain but it’s a start. Neuralink will provide a developer’s interface and a programming language for it so that you can write programs to analyze or stimulate those neurons. It will be very similar to the first personal computers of the 1980s that were nothing more than a box that processed ones and zeros and had no real point to them until people started playing with them and writing their own programs. The device doesn’t actually promise to do anything for you, at least not at first. It’s up to you, your doctor and your computer programmer to figure out which 1024 neurons you want to connect to and what you want to do with them. The sky’s the limit.
Once these devices get installed in enough people, the programs will grow exponentially the way computer programs do with each one building on the code from the previous program. They will start with only very rudimentary applications like what we see in cochlear implants or may be able to help with a few neurological disorders. At first, people could use it as a simple toy to stimulate their brain and see what happens. But over time, as we use this to figure out the brain, we will start curing depression, anxiety, and memory loss. We’ll use it for anger management and a myriad of mental tasks. Eventually we’ll be able to access the internet, play music and movies directly into our brain, communicate telepathically, or possibly record our memories or even copy our consciousness into a computer to achieve immortality.
These devices are going to be mass-produced, cost only a few thousand dollars, can be installed in under an hour by a fully automated robot, and you can walk away from the surgery. You can implant as many as you want and if you remove them, there theoretically are no negative effects.
These are already functional devices. They have implanted them in pigs and proven they work, at least for a few months. They already built the robot to install them in humans. They already have FDA approval for clinical trials for people with spinal injuries.
The most exciting aspect of this is that I will be able to use my programming skills to write applications to affect my own brain. When smartphones first came out I knew I should jump on board and start writing code, but I didn’t. I’m not making the same mistake with this device.
Here is Elon Musks recent presentation on the product:
Musk is terrible at presentations but they are always amazing anyway because of the content. In this one he made a very smart decision to bring out the leads from the different teams to help him through the question and answer period.
Kalin Ringkvist is a queer, atheist, web developer, science fiction author, real estate investor, and police brutality survivor. In 2020 he is taking a break from the personal data organizer application he’s building to write about current social issues, particularly the call to defund or re-invent the police.