Jump to content
Gordo

Neuralink announces "reveal" for next Tuesday (July 16th 2019) ‘ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers’

Recommended Posts

I had not previously even known about this company (forum search showed nothing for 'Neuralink' either), nor have I done any digging to see what is known about the project...   So I have no idea what to expect but the headlines certainly peak my interest.   I can't wait to see what they reveal on Tuesday!

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musks-brain-computer-company-schedules-reveal-of-new-machine-2019-07-12?mod=mw_theo_homepage

Elon Musk’s brain-computer company schedules reveal

Published: July 12, 2019 3:25 p.m. ET

Neuralink is developing ‘ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers’

MW-HN236_elon71_20190712120308_ZH.jpg?uuBloomberg News/Landov
Elon Musk speaking at the Tesla Model Y unveiling in March.

Elon Musk’s brain-computing venture Neuralink has scheduled an event on Tuesday to “share” what it has been secretively working on since its start a few years ago.

Musk, who is also the chief executive of Tesla Inc. TSLA, +0.26%  and privately held Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and The Boring Co., late Thursday retweeted Neuralink’s announcement:

 
 

We're having an event next Tuesday in San Francisco to share a bit about what we've been working on the last two years, and we’ve reserved a few seats for the internet. Apply here: https://neuralink.typeform.com/to/JLuM56 

 
 
 
 

Neuralink’s bare-bones website has job postings that describe the company as developing “ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers” and currently building a team of “multidisciplinary experts.”

Most if not all posts requested future employees who were “resourceful, flexible and adaptable; no task is too big or too small.”

Musk confirmed plans for Neuralink in 2017 and last year, during his infamous appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience’s podcast, said he’d be ready to announce a new Neuralink product in a few months, and that “a best-case scenario” would be humans effectively merging with artificial intelligence.

Neuralink is thought to be working on brain implants that, at least initially, would help treat cognitive impairments and neurological diseases and, later on, shield humans from threats by intelligent machines.

Edited by Gordo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd view Musk and anything Musk says with skepticism (his narcissism, penchant for self-aggrandizing and shooting from the hip rival that of our (US) "Dear Leader").

But I would also give him credit for at times brilliant salesmanship and I would also put some faith in the extremely smart people this kind of money can hire.

Funny enough, Neuralink was founded in 2017 -- just enough time for Musk to have had the time to read Yuval Noah Harari's "Home Deus," the follow up to his widely successful "Sapiens." :)))

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lemme see. I'm as happy to live in the ever promising future as the next guy, but I'm also old. Old enough to remember the Iron Law of all such announcements about revolutionary technology: ALWAYS B HYPIN'. 

What are the odds that this is nothing but empty hype? I'd say approaching certitude, approaching asymptotically, at the very long end of 9's in % - 99.99999999999999999~%

That doesn't mean the current Apostole of Hype won't be able to richly cash in on whatever it is that he's peddling. Same as it ever was.

I'm looking forward to being proven wrong. It's just gotta happen one of these days.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Gordo!

Fascinating!

The skepticism by Ron and Tom is of course appropriate -- but it does seem possible that -- at least sometime in the future (maybe using a Neurolink implant?)  -- humans can be directly connected to the Internet, without using a computer.  

My guess -- this will eventually happen -- but, at least in the long run, may not require an implant in the body -- possibly a small external device, over the skin, physically attached, that connects to the nervous system by induction.

BUT, we'll know more on Tuesday.

  --  Saul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm very skeptical of Musk's promises about both self-driving cars and brain computer interfaces in the near future, despite (or perhaps because of) being involved in both fields, e.g.

https://www.computerworld.com/article/2521888/intel--chips-in-brains-will-control-computers-by-2020.html

Both will happen eventually, but not soon. In the case of brain-computer interfaces, Musk is right about one thing. Viable, high-bandwidth BCI will require electrodes implanted in (or at least on) the brain. 

--Dean 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Slightly more info in this version of the announced reveal news:

https://www.inverse.com/amp/article/57607-neuralink-elon-musk-s-elusive-brain-computer-firm-just-made-a-big-reveal

I’m also a Musk skeptic - I have even, in the past, shorted Tesla (no position now). Off topic a bit but there are signs that Tesla might have turned the corner now and is not only viable but perhaps could even one day dominate the American car market if electric cars gain mass market acceptance  (another thing that isn’t happening near term but it’s possible eventually unless we skip right to flying drone transportation).  https://marketrealist.com/2019/07/teslas-leaked-email-is-a-nightmare-for-bears-and-other-automakers/

So while Musk sometimes seems like “Monorail Man” from the Simpsons, he may be “crazy like a 🦊 “ and end up being seen as an important pioneer in future history books.  His idea behind neuralink “big picture” seems to be that in order to save humanity from AI/the singularity- we will need to merge with machines.  Short term, they will probably just have to produce some limited medical devices with external electrodes to help people with brain injuries communicate better... They’ve been experimenting on rats with internal brain probes though... With all this hype you’d think they must have something significant to share?  

 

315FDC43-BA4E-4FEE-858A-1664AC4CDE95.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dean (or anyone), do you have any thoughts on  Mary Lou Jepsen's startup Open Water - she has been promising BCI via non-invasive infrared hologram tech.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Disclaimer: I don't know much about Open Water's exact approach beyond what I just read here - so take this with a grain of salt.

Having seen firsthand the relatively poor the quality of brain signal provided by a similar technology (fNIRS) to that being employed by Open Water when compared with fMRI or even MEG imaging, I'm pretty skeptical of Open Water's holographic red light projection method for the level of functional brain imaging required for high-bandwidth non-invasive a brain computer interfaces. 

Even if it worked perfectly, Open Water's approach (like fNIRS and fMRI) relies on hemodynamics (increased oxygenated blood flow to active brain regions), which is quite delayed, diffuse and sluggish compared with the underlying neural firing that you ultimately need to tap into for an effective, high-bandwidth BCI.

ECoG (laying an array of electrodes directly onto the cortical surface) is really the only technology that has been shown capable of delivering anything close to distributed, high-bandwidth brain data (see here) - even depth electrode arrays aren't great because they don't cover a large enough area of cortex to be useful beyond basic motor control BCI. That's why Musk is suggesting a "neural lace" - basically a denser version of ECoG.

The downside is such an approach requires brain surgery, making it very difficult to justify except to treat very serious clinical conditions, like epilepsy or paralysis.

Finally, in a sense we already have a high-bandwidth brain-computer interface. It is called our eyes. Seriously, given how much effort evolution has devoted to tweaking our visual system, and the fact that 30% of the cortex is devoted to processing the high-bandwidth data coming from our eyes, it seems very unlikely that any BCI is going to be able to come close to the input bandwidth we already get via our visual system. Beating our output bandwidth (e.g. via speech or touch typing) will be even harder, given our serial, cognitive limitations. 

In short, I think Musk's hope of keeping up with AGI via a better brain-computer interface is hopeless. The only real possibility would be tightly integrated brain prosthetics that give us the equivalent of more neurons to think with. Neural prosthetics aren't out of the question (see here for example). But we'd have to learn a whole lot more about how the brain works to make it possible at a scale and level of integration that could make a difference. And if we can figure out how the brain works, we can build completely artificial brains that will beat the pants off slow meat neurons.

Perhaps the best we can hope for in the long run is that our primitive consciousness (once uploaded) could remain as a small but occasionally useful module tacked onto a larger, more capable artificial superintelligence that's really in charge, as described in perhaps the best short story of all time, David Brin's Stone's of Significance (pdf) - which deals with my two of my favorite subjects, artificial intelligence and the simulation hypothesis.

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Gordo said:

signs that Tesla might have turned the corner now and is not only viable but perhaps could even one day dominate the American car market

I'm a long investor in Musk and am on the invite list for the acid-drop reveal on Tuesday.  Judging from the screening q's for the event, I think the brain-computer company will be focusing on "neural lace" tech and foremost on my wallet!!  See this, 2:20 ("just like Neo from The Matrix"  lol) and 1:40 ("without this ... humans will be unable to keep pace with advances in AI ... and will become the intellectual equivalent of the housecat" lol).  STAND UP SCIENCE!! 

image.png

Edited by Kenton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the reports I've read that report on Musk's big reveal, (The Verge  /  TechCrunch  /  Bloomberg) it strikes me very much like his recent Tesla "Autonomy Day" - long on hype but short on breakthroughs or impressive demonstrations. If it pans out (a big if with Musk) it looks more like an evolutionary advance on invasive BCI technology under development at many institutions, including Andy Schwartz's lab at the University of Pittsburgh. I've been fortunate to have worked with Andy and have seen firsthand the amazing work he and his team are already doing to restore motor control and even the sense of touch to paralyzed people using embedded arrays of electrodes. 

Here is one story and video on Andy's work. 

--Dean 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who want to hear the short version from the hypemaster himself, here is a 3min video of Musk from yesterday's so-called "big reveal", complete with flashy graphics of neurons firing to prove his credibility:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Musk video was hilarious.  No need to stay healthy and avoid mental degeneration as better linking to AI will come to the rescue.  The way he was struggling to verbalize his thoughts it seems this can't come soon enough for him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched the whole thing and thought it was pretty interesting. A bit over my head to be honest, but surprised they were already working with rats and monkeys using the technology 

"An abstract in a Neuralink whitepaper published today notes that the system could include “as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads.” The coauthors of the paper also noted that Neuralink has performed at least 19 surgeries on animals and successfully placed wires about 87% of the time.

During the presentation, Musk hinted that Neuralink has worked with primates. “We definitely need to address the monkey in the room. This is a sensitive subject,” he said. “A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain.” https://venturebeat.com/2019/07/16/neuralinks-technology-embeds-tiny-wires-in-the-brain-to-read-electrical-pulses/

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6204648-Neuralink-White-Paper.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, Matt said:

During the presentation, Musk hinted that Neuralink has worked with primates. “We definitely need to address the monkey in the room. This is a sensitive subject,” he said. “A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain.

This is classic Musk. This statement is 100% true, but it is far from clear that his team has done anything with primates yet. Here is a video by Andy Schwartz and his team of a monkey controlling a robot arm via an electrode array implanted in his motor cortex, exactly what Musk and his team are shooting for. It is from 2008.

--Dean

P.S. I too feel badly for the monkeys involved in these experiments.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So low are my expectations of this hype that I cannot bring myself to watch even the short version. Like with any hype "announcement", I figure, if there is any merit, we'll see it actualized out there at some point - but most of the time the hype lasts as long as the announcement and a few news cycles, then dies not to be heard from again. I'm glad to have spared myself the time. I'm still waiting on cold fusion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad smart people are working on projects like this, they could be doing much worse with their time.  Who knows where this might lead.  I like the fact that they were at least able to manufacture the threads shown, and create a robot to insert them.  Lets see what they can achieve over the next 5 years.

Popular press write ups have been entertaining...

Elon Musk says he's tested his brain microchip on monkeys and it enabled one to control a computer with its mind

 
Elon Musk E3Neuralink CEO Elon Musk.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
  • Elon Musk's neurotechnology company, Neuralink, has pulled back the veil on its ambitions to implant chips in people's brains.
  • During a Q&A session at a live presentation on Tuesday, Musk surprised his Neuralink colleagues by announcing that the firm had tested its technology on monkeys with some success.
  • Musk said "a monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain," though he did not elaborate further on what this involved.
  • Neuralink's president, Max Hodak, said that he wished the company didn't have to experiment on animals but that it's a necessary "step in the process."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
 

Elon Musk took his colleagues by surprise with an unplanned announcement at a presentation by his secretive neurotechnology company, Neuralink, on Tuesday.

Musk cofounded Neuralink in 2016. Its goal is to create a chip that could enable a "brain-computer interface." And according to Musk, the company has already had some success — with monkeys.

During the 90-minute event, Musk and various senior staffers at Neuralink presented the company's ambition to design a chip capable of being implanted in the human brain that could receive and transmit signals to the organ.

The near-term goal would be to treat various serious brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, although ultimately Musk's ambition is to achieve "symbiosis with artificial intelligence."

Read more: Elon Musk's company Neuralink plans to connect people's brains to the internet by next year using a procedure he claims will be as safe and easy as LASIK eye surgery

The current design takes the form of a chip implanted behind the ear, connected to electrode threads about one quarter the width of a human hair, which are threaded into the brain, where they can stimulate the neurons or nerve cells.

Neuralink chipThe Neuralink chip sits behind the ear, while electrodes are threaded into the brain.  Neuralink/YouTube

Responding to a question about whether the company had conducted any animal testing, Musk replied that it had carried out tests on rats and monkeys, adding that the company's work with monkeys had been done in conjunction with the University of California. "The results have been very positive," Musk said.

Neuralink's senior scientist Philip Sabes said some of the results would be available in a paper "soon," but Musk cut across: "A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain, just FYI." He did not elaborate as to exactly how said monkey had controlled the computer.

"I didn't realize we were running that result today, but there it goes," Neuralink's president, Max Hodak, said, laughing. "The monkey's going to come out of the bag," Musk replied.

Both Musk and Hodak seemed cognizant of the sensitive nature of animal testing. "We wish that we didn't have to work with animals — we just wish that wasn't a step in the process, but it is," Hodak said. Musk also said the company hoped to start human testing before the end of next year.

You can watch Elon Musk's full Neuralink presentation here:

SEE ALSO: A team of scientists linked to Elon Musk appear to be making progress putting chips into brains

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Gordo said:

I'm glad smart people are working on projects like this, they could be doing much worse with their time.  Who knows where this might lead

Despite my skepticism about Elon's hype and timeline, I agree with you. In a few years this R&D could actually payoff in terms of helping disabled people. And in the meantime, Musk's overpromising isn't killing people or bilking them out of money with empty promises, both of which he's guilty of wrt autonomous driving, IMO.

Unfortunately, animals are suffering as a result of this research, but at least it is a case where progress towards a worthy goal can't be achieved without some suffering. 

--Dean

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Neuroscience experts, including Andy Schwartz who I mentioned above, weigh in on on Musk's plans:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/20/tech/elon-musk-neuralink-brain-chip-experts/index.html

Summary: they are intrigued by Musk's promise to make it wireless, but we're a long way (a least a decade) from it being safe or useful for anyone except paralyzed people.

--Dean 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×