There is a lot of discussion in the digital space surrounding Elon Musk and Neuralink. Some people praise the company for its innovative approach, others claim that it is the beginning of the end for humanity. While avoiding conspiracies and crackpot theories, it makes sense why people are reticent about Neuralink. If you don’t know, the concept behind Neuralink is a button shaped brain implant that sends information back and forth between the mind and technology (Your phone, laptop, gaming system, etc…). We’ve all watched Black Mirror and other doomsday shows. We are raised to be cautious of great scientific advancements. However, I’m here to say, that there are some really incredible ways that Neuralink could change the medical field for the better.
The narrative surrounding Neuralink:
Before discussing exactly how Neuralink is improving the medical field, we need to take a look at how the company is being covered by media outlets and public figures. To begin with, Neuralink is not the first brain chip on the market. That might be surprising to hear due to all of the conversation surrounding the device, but there have actually been similar chips on the market for nearly a decade. There have even been studies surrounding the subject for the last thirty years. Brain Machine Interface (BMI) and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) systems aren’t particularly new, but Elon Musk’s involvement in the company has created a complex public narrative. Rather than focusing on the actual implementation of the machine, reporters and public figures like to linger on sensationalized stories about Elon Musk being a global savior or super villain. He’s neither and The Link has very little to do with the man at the top of the company. With that out of the way, let’s get down to brass tax.
How The Link is so innovative:
When looking at Neuralinks expectations for The Link it quickly become apparent just how bold its concept is. Just for starters, Neuralink is working to make The Link eight hundred times smaller than any machine available right now. In fact, it’s going to be so small that human hands wouldn’t be able to surgical install the chip into the brain. Neuralink is working on building a robot that would be able to install the absolutely tiny device.
While the machine is quite small, it is going to be mind bogglingly powerful. Current BMI systems harness less than ten electrodes and are designed to modulate whole brain areas. Rather than being used to transfer information to and from the brain. The Link aims to utilize over one thousand electrodes. Giving it the ability to pinpoint trouble areas in the brain and enhance very specific mental functions. Like playing a complex video game or using an IOS device.
The Link’s real-world impact:
While it’s easy to imagine regular people getting brain implants that give them superhero abilities or perfect memory. That is not the purpose behind The Link. The people who are going to benefit from this device are those with brain function impairments. Individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s, seizures, epilepsy, or other similar central nervous system disorders. For these people, The Link offers a return to a normal way of life that would be remarkably noninvasive. Instead of a large machine that offers limited functionality like all BMI’s and DBS’ systems on the market today. Neuralink’s device would allow for complex technological usage with eight hundred times less annoyance.
Some final thoughts:
It’s important to be cautious when you hear about quick fixes or miracle elixirs. Taking the time to do your own research will lead to better solutions. However, there’s been a lot of misinformation surrounding Neuralink’s The Link. At this point there are so many positives to this device that it’s worth really admiring what’s possible. From the size of the machine to the complex operations it can handle, the lives of anyone living with a central nervous system disorder is going to change immeasurably.