The story of Elon Musk’s brain microchip

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Have you watched Hollywood movies like The Matrix or Lucy? the popular science fiction
depicted the concept of increasing cerebral capacity, the interface where human beings
experienced a shared experience with artificial intelligence and computerized systems
controlling human brains. World famous scientist and business tycoon Elon Musk has turned
all the sci-fi fantasies into reality! The funny part is that this brain microchip-producing
company was derived from the concept of ‘neural lace’ which was elaborately shown in the
science fiction series named The Culture.

The billionaire already owns the world’s leading companies like Tesla Inc., and SpaceX and
recently took over Twitter. He quietly founded the San Francisco company Neuralink under
the radar in 2016. It practiced under the cover until the April of 2017 when it finally
announced its purpose and motive. As the nomenclature suggests, Neuralink is a high-tech,
coin-sized microchip which is implanted in the human skulls to enable a link between
neurons and computers.

On 26 th July 2019, a white paper was published under the title of Elon Musk and Neuralink
where Elon Musk stated, “We are already a cyborg. We are so well connected with our
phones and computers that losing a phone feels like losing a limb.” This statement is a pure
example that justifies how human consciousness continues to merge with Artificial
Intelligence (AI).

What is the mechanism that drives these Neuralink implant brain
microchips?

Neuralink co-founder Elon Musk continues to carry human civilization into the high-tech
future which was once a mere animation in Hollywood movies. This new device called the
“brain-machine interface” (BMIs) could turn a human into a literal cyborg. He claims that
one day this implanted brain chip could cure every possible disease caused by brain damage
to which medical science does not have any guaranteed full-proof aid. The list may begin
with paralysis, blindness, tinnitus, dysfunctional sensory or motor functions, epilepsy and the
list continue. Elon Musk states that via his start-up Neuralink which hired world-class experts
in neuroscience, biomechanism, and robotics work with a goal of “understanding and treating
brain disorders,” “preserving and enhancing our brains,” and creating a well-aligned future”.

Our brains are made of billions of neurons. The latter are cells with long hair-like threads
branching out like the roots of a tree that functions to receive and deliver information by
electrical spikes. Those spikes of electricity are chemicals that travel between neurons in a
chain reaction. This enables the brain to control all the functioning of our body. Neuralink
with the help of a surgical robot that is built to insert the brain microchip directly into the
brain. The chip plugs into the brain and branches out its tiny microscopic wire-like threads
which are about 1/20 th of the width of a human hair. They connect with the neurons in the
brain and transmit the electrical signals to the computer which is connected to the device via
USB. The surgical robot is claimed to ace in the precision of its function to implant the chip
in the brain. As the wire threads branch out, they avoid any contact with arteries or veins to
cause “no noticeable damage” in the procedure. The wires are equipped with 1,024

electrodes. The high volume of electrodes in these wire-like threads enables the transmission
of the information in bulk and amplifies them in a computer device. There might be a very
valid question that might arise in someone’s mind as our brain processes different types of
information, what if the wires break? The wires are built with a flexible nature which allows
them to bend according to the shape of the brain.

Experiments and trials conducted on living beings

At an event of Neuralink held in the year 2020, Elon Musk showed a live demo to the world.
They had three pigs – one which didn’t have a chip inserted in its brain, another one in which
the chip has been removed and continued to live and function like a healthy mammal, and the
last one which was functioning quite perfectly with a brain microchip implant for two
months. The audience was shown how the movements of the third pig were recorded on a
screen and decoded in a computer device to analyze and study the functioning of the brain.
The device should also form imagery of the pig brain in real-time as the electrodes
transmitted the information.

In another experiment which was conducted in the year between 2017 and 2020, in 2021 a
video was broadcasted showing that a macaque monkey with an implanted brain microchip
was able to play a famous video game called ‘pong’. Initially, it used one of its limbs to move
the joystick to move the cursor on the screen. The series of events turned interestingly
fascinating, after a while it was shown in the video that the joystick was unplugged and the
ape continued to move it out of motor habit but regardless of the connection, the cursor on the
screen kept moving as the brain microchip implanted in the macaque monkey was connected
to the device. This proved that this mechanism could make ‘neuro lace’ possible. However,
during the procedure of experiments, Elon Musk claimed that around 15 out of 23 monkeys
died due to the experiments conducted on them. Despite such a great loss in the lives of these
non-human primates, he denies all allegations of animal cruelty. He believes in the law that
before continuing any scientific trial on humans, they shall be conducted on animals. His
company Neuralink also twitted, “Animals at Neuralink are respected and honored by our
team. Without proper context, information from medical records and study data can be
misleading.”

This simply seems the beginning of the tragedies and losses that the living beings on the earth
shall incur due to the advancement of technology. The output of such an invention still lies in
ambiguity. If it shall add up to the welfare or degeneration.

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