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Is Computer Chips To Be Implanted In Human Brains In 2022? Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s has many projects but his company Neuralink is a lesser known one with profound ambitions. Following an announcement at Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, Elon Musk hopes that his company Neuralink in 2022 may get FDA approval implant chips into humans to help people with disabilities control computers. The company has previously only demonstrated this technology with monkeys.
Neuralink implant is described as a “profound” device that could help many people who have suffered spinal cord injuries and struggle to perform bodily tasks regain their independence.
Neuralink is a Brain-Computer interface is working well in monkeys. A monkey is trained to play a computer game with a joystick. If it wins the game, it gets a treat such as a banana. While the monkey is training to play the computer game scientists observing the monkey’s brainwaves and record data. The brainwave data is correlated to data that recorded the monkey’s joystick actions to form a computer program that recognizes certain types of brainwave patterns as certain types of physical action. Later scientists perform brain surgery on the monkey and implant a Neuralink.
Next the scientists perform a different experiment. The monkey now with a Neuralink implant returns to the computer game and thinks that it is moving a joystick to control the computer game, however, the joystick is unplugged, and the monkey is successfully able to control the computer game with its mind.
Musk’s company Neuralink founded in 2016 isn’t the first company to try and help severely disabled people help regain their independence using thought to control technology. In July 2021, Synchron a competitor of Neuralink ‘edged out its rival in getting permission for a trial to implant chips in people’.
Synchron’s flagship product, known as the Stentrode motor neuroprosthesis, is currently in trial phase for patients with severe paralysis at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
Synchron’s device will enable patients to “wirelessly control external devices by thinking about moving their limbs,” This technology can help with activities ranging from texting and emailing to online shopping and accessing health services.
Synchron already has a separate clinical trial underway outside of the US, with four patients in Australia having already received the implant. In 2020 the first two patients from this study were able to “control their devices to text and type through direct thought.”
Currently you cannot buy stock in Neuralink or Synchron. Synchron and its affiliated General Atomics companies are a privately held group of companies engaged in advanced research, technology, products and systems for the energy and defense sectors.
It is speculated that if Neuralink were to ever become public based on share count, the launch price could range from $5-10 per share.
Brain-Brain Interface Using Technology To Control Thoughts
Watching tech companies such as Neuralink and Synchron battle it out to be the best Brain to Computer interface is only the tip of the iceberg. Prof. Newton Howard writes ‘there is a race to develop not only the brain-computer interface but also the brain-brain interface.’
Prof. Newton Howard is a former Director of the MIT Mind Machine Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently a Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Functional Neurosurgery at the University of Oxford
Prof. Newton Howard works with Risk Roundup, a global initiative launched by Risk Group, is a security risk reporting for risks emerging from existing and emerging technologies,
Brain-Brain interface technology isn’t in fact all that new. Scientists have been doing experiments at least as far back as 2013 using rats and brain to brain interface systems to create telepathic networks between animals across several continents, and University of Washington researchers conducted an experiment in 2013 where one human was able to control another human’s hand with a brain to brain interface.
AI and Cybersecurity
Although Brain-Computer Interface and Brain-Brain Interface has been in separate experimentation for a while, these technologies are likely to converge. Artificial Intelligence will increasingly power many of the processes. There are increasing concerns of cybersecurity threats such as hackers or artificial intelligence may be able to control patients / users of these devices as more AI processes are introduced.