Musk demonstrates monkey mind typing, so that the brain-computer interface will be as subversive as the original iPhone

After Elon Musk (Elon Musk) took charge of Twitter , he had afternoon tea with Tim Cook and cleared some barriers.

Moreover, he also personally practiced the delivery of the 37-ton performance beast Tesla Semi .

And on Wednesday, he also took time out to present the company's latest achievements for his brain-computer interface company Neuralink.

Three irrelevant businesses, and three different industries, are connected in series by "Silicon Valley Iron Man" Musk, as if he, like Stark in Marvel, has a nuclear reactor in his body and his energy is never exhausted.

Even, this week, it wouldn't be too surprising if there was any new news from SpaceX.

The monkey army with built-in Neuralink brain computer can type

It's almost an Apple Watch or a Fitbit bracelet.

This was said by Musk himself at the Neuralink communication meeting.

Of course, this is a rather inappropriate metaphor, but it is a good popular concept for ordinary people who have never heard of "brain machines".

If you take it a little farther, this metaphor coincides with Jony Ive's thinking. In an interview about a year ago, Ive believed that some products would "disappear under our skin" in the future.

And Musk also believes that Neuralink’s miniaturization, achieving a thickness similar to that of the skull, and hiding it in the skull is very important for brain computers.

After all, no one wants to change the shape of their head or cut a hole in it in order to install a brain machine.

Speaking of this, Musk did not forget to jokingly (or seriously) said, "The advantage of miniaturization is that it seems that I have implanted a Neuralink now, and you don't even know it."

After briefly introducing the brain-computer concept and paving the way for how Neurallink worked hard to transform the experimentally explored prototype into universal and economical mass production, Musk also began to show what Neuralink brain-computer can do now.

In fact, as early as 18 months ago, a macaque named Pager briefly demonstrated "playing electronic table tennis games with ideas", and its communication with the electronic world was only the Neurallink prototype on the skull.

In 18 months, Pager had five or six more colleagues, and the ones on display were Comet, Mars, Sake, Ranger, and Hotshot.

And the Neuralink prototypes in their heads have also been upgraded. Musk also guarantees that this will be a major feature of Neuralink mass production in the future, can be continuously upgraded, and has a long enough life and durability.

Today, Sake can sit in front of the Mac skillfully and type "can i please have snacks" on the soft keyboard.

It seems that after embedding Neuralink in their brains, monkeys not only know how to type, but even understand English.

In fact, before Sake typed each letter, there was a yellow highlight on the soft keyboard, and what Sake had to do was to move the cursor to the highlighted place.

It doesn't even know what it's doing. But similar to the ancient craft of taming animals, Sake and his colleagues were able to do this, in fact, it was conditioned reflex.

When they sit in front of the Mac, playing ping pong, moving the cursor, tapping and dragging, swiping, handwriting, and gesture recognition, there will be an unlimited supply of banana milkshakes.

Even charging the Neuralink in their heads is the temptation of a banana milkshake.

The Neuralink team designed a fake scene. As long as the monkeys eat milkshakes in the past, the Tianling Gai can just touch the wireless charging board and charge while eating.

It can be said that the carbon-based and silicon-based energy supplements together.

In addition to wireless charging, Neuralink also supports aluminum battery bases, and the team has also optimized battery efficiency, doubling battery life.

In addition, while introducing Sake to type, Musk also emphasized that Sake and his colleagues had a very happy life in the Neuralink laboratory, and they had endless banana milkshakes every day.

And on Neuralink's official website, there is also an article introducing the living conditions of the animals participating in the brain-computer experiment, eating, drinking and living. According to Neuralink's introduction, they are all living happily.

However, it cannot be ruled out that participating in the brain-computer project is extremely risky. There have also been monkeys who died after being implanted with a brain-computer before.

Musk also emphasized again at the communication meeting that before implanting in humans and animals, he will do his best to test, including safety and life tests.

And it was announced that Neuralink has submitted an application to the FDA. If it goes well, in about 6 months, they will be able to implant the first Neuralink in the human body and carry out large-scale human experiments.

Entering the human brain does not allow us to type in the air

In Musk's conception, Neuralink has probably two uses after it starts mass production and enters the human body.

One is to restore vision, and the other is to restore motor function.

Neuralink found that visual impairment, mostly eyeball problems, their cerebral cortex is still active, Neuralink's brain computer can become a bridge, connecting the brain and the prosthetic eye, and transmitting the signal of the prosthetic eye to the brain.

But this idea, in the current Neuralink experiment, probably can only receive weak signals, and there is still a long way to go to replace the human eye.

The recovery of motor function is for those who are completely paralyzed. The ultimate goal is similar to restoring vision. The Neuralink brain computer bypasses the damaged spine to send instructions to the nerves of the whole body.

However, from the example of Sake, after six months into the human body, it is more practical to allow people who are paralyzed to be able to type on computers, control the mouse, or use smart phones flexibly.

Similarly, Neuralink's brain-computer still has a long way to go for technical exploration and mass production.

During the speech, Musk emphasized more than once that the Neuralink brain machine is small in size, easy to upgrade, and easy to install and replace.

Musk's goal is that the process of replacing or implanting Neuralink is like the current myopia surgery, and he will leave when he is done.

For this reason, not only the design of Neuralink itself must be simple enough, but also the implantation process needs to be simpler.

When Neuralink's products gradually became available to the public in 2020, Musk also successively announced the R1 robot capable of performing human brain surgery.

After Sake was drinking a milkshake and typing on the keyboard, Neuralink also performed brain-computer surgery on the simulated doll alpha.

R1 cut open the alpha's skull, and then inserted the thin wires into the "false brain" whose insertion points had been marked in advance, and then inserted 64 wires step by step. The whole process took about 15 minutes.

Musk also revealed that Neuralink plans to open its own brain-computer implant clinic and continue to undertake business.

However, Musk did not raise our expectations for the Neuralink brain computer, took out the high-tech prosthetic eye in the shell, and did not say that he is doing a career that may change the entire history of mankind.

▲ Musk and the Neuralink team

On the contrary, he also kept a clear head, and even worried that the rapidly developing AI would make Neuralink's current efforts worthless.

However, Musk still maintains an optimistic view of the brain machine. Neuralink has simpler and low-cost invasive surgery, and possibly more powerful computing power. Neuralink still has a place.

Neuralink is not a Silicon Valley company that focuses on the implantable brain-computer industry, and it is not the first to start. There are still many technologies or academic institutions in the world that are accelerating the research on brain technology.

Moreover, after Musk announced the demonstration of Sake's space typing, some people in the industry commented that this is actually a function that an implanted brain machine can complete a few years ago, and they don't think Neuralink can bring much difference. function.

However, the brain machine they refer to appears more as an academic exploration, and Neuralink transforms academic exploration into a mature commercial project.

As Musk said in his speech, design is easy, but mass production is difficult. What Neuralink is doing now is how to officially introduce brain computers into the consumer market.

To truly enter the human brain, brain-computer technology needs to break through, but there are still many unknown issues related to data collection, security, and ethics.

Six months later, even if the FDA has issued a human experiment permit for Neuralink, there are still quite a few problems to be solved before the brain machine goes to ordinary consumers.

However, once Neuralink comes out, "it will have the same historical significance as the original iPhone." The iPhone opened the door to smartphones, and Neuralink's goal is to open the door to brains and computers to the public.

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