Last week, brain-computer interface aficionados brimmed with anticipation as word spread that Neuralink’s Elon Musk would soon have a major announcement about his BCI venture.
I’ve written about or mentioned Neuralink a number of times over the course of the years, though in nearly every context there’s been little to report beyond the name of the company and what it aims to do. In the aftermath of Musk’s recent news, however, the shape of Neuralink’s BCI is far more clear, and we’ve got more insight than ever into how close they are to implementing it.
And I, for one, am intrigued.
Perhaps the most groundbreaking details offered in this announcement are those pertaining to the quantity and shape of the electrodes that will be used to detect signals from the brain. As we saw in this post, current brain-computer interfaces rely on apparatuses like electro-caps, which utilize approximately two dozen sensors.
Neuralink, however, will make use of thousands.
Not only that, but they’ll be inside the brain rather than on the surface of the scalp. In this way, every electrode will be able to collect more accurate data by minimizing interference, which will, in turn, immensely improve the quality of one’s experience when using their BCI.
To date, this technique has only been tested on rats, but, per the New York Times article linked above, it has proven to be “15 times better than current systems embedded in humans.”
Despite how promising this might sound, we remain a number years from seeing this technology put to use commercially. Neuralink believes, however, that what it’s developed will soon be tested in research and medical applications, which makes for an encouraging next step.
Whether through Neuralink or one of its competitors, we might still have to wait some time before we see how the brain-computer interface manifests in our world. Until then, there’s one world in which we can watch this technology play out, namely that of EMPATHY (the Electronic Mechanism Purposed for the Achievement of a Truly Hybrid Yield).
If you haven’t yet started on the series that reviewers are calling “an incisive techno-thriller that gets more tense with every page,” there’s never been a better time—especially now that we’re closer than ever to having a brain-computer interface in our own world.