Elon Musk’s Neuralink project has been under wraps for a majority of its existence, but the Tesla and SpaceX frontman has indicated that an update will be coming on August 28.
Neuralink was founded in July 2016, nearly four years ago. Since its development as a company, details about internal projects have been relatively secretive, and few updates have been given over the years.
Musk took to Twitter just after midnight Pacific Time to share Neuralink’s new mission statement: “If you can’t beat em, join em.”
Progress update August 28
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2020
Most recently, Musk talked about Neuralink’s projects and potential with Joe Rogan in May 2020 on an episode of the UFC Commentator and Comedian’s podcast.
Musk indicated that Neuralink’s first products could come as soon as next year. While telling Rogan about how chips could be installed into the human brain with an implantation-like surgery process, Musk outlined the advantages of the products that Neuralink could offer.
Neuralink could help combat brain-related health issues in individuals who are neurologically compromised. Musk claims the installation of a chip, which could replace a small portion of the human skull, could restore limb function, improve human movement, resolve issues with eyesight and hearing, and help with diseases like Parkinson’s.
There is also the possibility that the implementation of a Neuralink device into a brain could pave the way for hindering brain issues like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and strokes. When the human brain encounters one of these illnesses or conditions, the Neuralink device could recognize the occurrence and send what he calls a “counter pulse,” which could stop the issue from happening at all.
Last July, Neuralink held a live-streamed event in California, where the brain-machine interface startup detailed a series of “flexible threads” that could be inserted into the brain without damaging blood vessels. The threads would be responsible for transferring high volumes of data into the brain with as many as 3,072 electrodes.
The design was tested on at least 19 different animals with robots with around an 87% success rate. The Neuralink threads were able to gather around ten times as much information than what is possible with today’s sensors, company researcher Philip Sabes noted during the presentation.
Neuralink is currently headquartered in San Francisco, and a team of researchers is making progress toward its first human projects by next year. The company still has to jump through federal hoops, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to give Neuralink regulatory approval to perform surgeries on human patients.