Does Elon Musk ever sleep?
Probably. But whatever the amount, it’s likely diminished even more now, as the serial entrepreneur ― already busy with Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City, not to mention The Boring Company and Hyperloop ― has launched another company.
His newest venture, called Neuralink, will research how to connect the human brain and computers by way of tiny, implanted electrodes.
Max Hodak, a company insider at Neuralink, confirmed the news to the Wall Street Journal Monday, describing the state of the startup as “embryonic.”
While Neuralink may be brand new, the concept it hopes to capitalize on is not.
Musk spoke publicly about the idea at Recode’s 2016 Code Conference, describing a need for some sort of “neural lace” to enable direct human/computer interfacing. Without that, he theorized, we risk playing second fiddle to artificial intelligence, a technology liable to advance so quickly it ends up viewing humans as little more than domestic pets (in a best-case scenario).
“I don’t love the idea of being a house cat,” Musk said at the conference. “I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer … A third, digital layer above the cortex that could work well and symbiotically with you.”
Researchers have been actively engaged in the topic as well. A 2015 study in the journal Nature Nanotechnology explained in great detail how an electronic mesh could be injected into the brain via a syringe. Possible early applications of the technology could help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, or help patients with spinal cord injuries control artificial limbs.
“We’re trying to blur the distinction between electronic circuits and neural circuits,” Charles Lieber, a co-author of the Nature Nanotechnology report and a researcher at Harvard told Smithsonian Magazine at the time. “We have to walk before we can run, but we think we can really revolutionize our ability to interface with the brain.”