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Analysis Silicon Valley bad boy Elon Musk's grand plan to build brain-machine interfaces to "achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence" is obviously more science fiction than fact at the moment.
If you missed the presentation from Musk's latest company Neuralink on Tuesday, here's what the plan is: Build an implant that sticks electrodes into the brain to collect and transmit electrical signals that pass through a chip and onto an external device, like a computer. Musk promises that the brain-machine interface (BMI), or "neural lace", will help paralyzed people move again or solve brain disorders like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.
You can watch the talk below.
OK, sure, but nothing about this idea is particularly new. There are several research labs and companies around the world that have been working on BMIs for years, and there's still nothing on the market yet. It's just that Musk has enough money and power that everyone seems to be wowed when he says he wants to jam rods into human brains by 2020.
Demonstration - Type - Technology - Lives - Science
The best demonstration of this type of technology lives in science fiction, such as Arthur C Clarke's "brain cap".
In order to assess how feasible these devices are in the real world, you have to have a basic idea of how the brain works. The mass of jelly protected by our skulls houses some 100 billion neurons that constantly communicate with one another by firing electrochemical signals that can be measured by electrodes as a voltage.
Musk - BMIs - Things - Output - Voltages
Musk wants his BMIs to do two things. One, detect these output voltages to decipher what neurons are being excited in order to work out what the brain is trying to do. For example, the information gathered from neurons firing to get a body part to move could be fed into a prosthetic limb. Two, he wants boffins to stimulate...
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