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Neuralink News and Discussions

Musk Neuralink 2019 Transhumanism Singularity Technology Elon

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#1
waitingforthe2020s

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I hope this is the right forum.

So Neuralink just revealed some really interesting stuff this night/morning. What do you guys think?
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I'm a radical demo-publiacrat.

 

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#2
caltrek

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Didn't notice this thread before posting the article below in another thread. No real thoughts that I want to share at this moment, but I thought having the article cited might give some useful background.

 

Elon Musk unveils Neuralink’s plans for brain-reading ‘threads’ and a robot to insert them

 

https://www.theverge...ng-thread-robot

 

Introduction:

Quote

 

(The Verge) Elon Musk’s Neuralink, the secretive company developing brain-machine interfaces, showed off some of the technology it has been developing to the public for the first time. The goal is to eventually begin implanting devices in paralyzed humans, allowing them to control phones or computers.

 

The first big advance is flexible “threads,” which are less likely to damage the brain than the materials currently used in brain-machine interfaces. These threads also create the possibility of transferring a higher volume of data, according to a white paper credited to “Elon Musk & Neuralink.” The abstract notes that the system could include “as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads.”

 

The threads are 4 to 6 μm in width, which makes them considerably thinner than a human hair. In addition to developing the threads, Neuralink’s other big advance is a machine that automatically embeds them.

 

Musk gave a big presentation of Neuralink’s research Tuesday night, though he said that it wasn’t simply for hype. “The main reason for doing this presentation is recruiting,” Musk said, asking people to go apply to work there. Max Hodak, president of Neuralink, also came on stage and admitted that he wasn’t originally sure “this technology was a good idea,” but that Musk convinced him it would be possible.

neuralink_2.0.jpg


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#3
Alislaws

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I was not able to watch the presentation yet because 4am and then work. 

 

From summaries I have seen it looks like there's no major unexpected news, just a restating of the mission, and confirmation that they have tested in animals and it works and they are now after FDA approval for use in people with paralysis. 

 

This is happening quicker than I expected, Was Musk's original (typically ambitious!) prediction that they would have a commercial non-medical device in 10 or so years from 2017?

 

So if we have medical implants in humans by end of 2021 they have 6 years to improve things enough that people will want them even if they're not paralysed, which seems much more plausible than the original 10 years from nothing estimate. 

 

The fact that they are creating an implanting machine is huge as it means mass deployment at relatively affordable prices will be possible. (training a brain surgeon to install them would take a long time I suspect! and most brain surgeons are probably busy with life saving surgeries.)

 

Monkey controlling a computer is cool, but depends on what he did with it. 

 

Also will Openwater make this whole company pointless somewhere along the way? 


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#4
Erowind

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Full immersion vr by the 2040s lads, I'm calling it. It won't have 1:1 realistic graphics but visuals will be good enough and all 5 senses will be satisfied.
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#5
eacao

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Full immersion vr by the 2040s lads, I'm calling it. It won't have 1:1 realistic graphics but visuals will be good enough and all 5 senses will be satisfied.

 

2040 feels about right. Might even say earlier, dude. 

 

Thought it was pretty metal seeing the full suite in concert. The minimally invasive implant under the scalp connected to the external earpiece that supplies power and connectivity. It looked a lot like Black Mirror. 

 

For those who haven't seen Neuralink's presentation, the current architecture begins with a small (≈4mm) hole being drilled into the skull. This hole is 'plugged' with a fully integrated SOC which is ensconced inside an hermetically sealed casing. From this SOC skull-plug, extremely thin tendrils (roughly the diameter of a single neuron, or 4μm in diameter) are inserted into the brain with robotic precision. Each tendril is thin enough, and flexible enough, to minimise trauma to brain tissue and evade veins and capillaries, producing "no noticeable bleeding". The tiny incision in the scalp (4mm), above the implant, heals ("without visible scarring"), and the wearer places an external, wireless, earpiece over their ear to provide the implant with both power and (literally) bluetooth connectivity. 

 

What it looks like, is a person attiring an earpiece, that looks much like a modern bluetooth earphone, over their ear which wireless powers and communicated with their sub-dermal implant. 

 

In other words, when you watch some Black Mirror episodes and you see people place a small device on the outside of their temple, you're seeing a miniaturised and refined version of what we mere mortals were shown today. 

 

It's pretty dope. 

 

callister-device-e1514623368901.jpg?qual

 

So dude, FIVR by 2040 actually makes some sense. 

 

My own conjecturing is that these invasive tendrils will eventually give way to either an injection that allows free-floating electrodes to circulate their way into the brain where they settle, or perhaps even be ingested and make their way to the blood stream via the liver. From there, they will exit the capillaries in your brain and perform the same read/write functionality to neuron clusters / individual neurons. 

 

In any case, hopefully we will always maintain the physical failsafe for power and connectivity--if we pull the externally mounted power/antennae source off our face, the entire system will be excommunicated/shut down. 

 

Bring on the singularity, habibi

 

Spoiler

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#6
starspawn0

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Konrad Kording seems slightly impressed, but wasn't blown away:

https://mobile.twitt...358200505147392

So, it looks like
@elonmusk

@neuralink
have quickly caught up with the incumbents (e.g. blackrock). There is nothing revolutionary but a range of really creative ideas (love the guide tube like needle idea). I need to see more data but they seem to be on a great track.


Sussillo also wasn't blown-away by what was presented, but thinks they are holding back (Musk's monkey comment supports this view):

https://twitter.com/...551761540247552

I haven't read the paper, but I did watch the show in full last night. IMO they likely have significantly advanced the engineering aspects of BMI without showing anything earth shattering. They are well positioned for medical applications / science apps over the next 10 years.


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#7
starspawn0

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I think Neuralink will have a healthy business in the medical field, helping treat ALS patients, say; but I don't think they will be able to attract a substantial number of healthy people to have their brains wired up. Thus, I think it will be a slow-growth company.

On the other hand, if they can make it much less invasive, then this could go rather far. I think near-infrared-based BCIs will steal the spotlight away from Musk very soon -- e.g. the work of Mary Lou Jepsen's Openwater, the Edgefield device being researched at Facebook, and then also the DARPA-funded projects in the N^3 program. Probably Facebook's device will get the lion's share of the media attention in the coming months; then, eventually, Openwater. What Neuralink needs to do, in order to get a large number of people to try it, is to build a device that works without surgery. Surgery is going to be a no-go for most people. Perhaps it will be possible to make a pill that, upon ingestion, moves little nano-particles into your brain, that are sensitive to neural impulses, and whose state can scanned using a small wearable device; this would still be "invasive", but I could see a large percent of the population trying it. I believe one of the DARPA N^3 teams is pursuing something like this.

To find out more about the human-enhancement potential of BCIs, see this posting of mine:

https://www.futureti...-and-not-write/

There are 3 or 4 posts in that thread that lay out where I see these BCIs going in the coming years. I don't discuss FIVR-like applications, as those are further in the future (at least 20 years); most of what I discuss will be possible in the next 10 years.
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#8
starspawn0

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This is a really good podcast interview with Konrad Kording and Elizabeth Lopatto about Neuralink:

https://www.scpr.org...alink-announce/

Kording sounds excited. He says that academia is good at coming up with ideas, but is not so good at integrating; and Neuralink's work seems to be about taking a lot of good ideas that are already known, and then bringing them all together into a single unit. He says industry can really complement academia in that regard.
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#9
funkervogt

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Could we use brain implants to determine which animals are sentient? 



#10
Yuli Ban

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I do wonder... If we've hooked up animals to computers (especially dolphins and fellow apes), would we be able to hold conversations with them?

We're already fairly close with dolphins

 

Birds had a massive headstart since they actually could speak to us in our own language, but they have never really been able to converse meaningfully beyond a few questions, probably because their brains are too small. Apes might be much closer to us in that regard; if they didn't have to rely on memorizing symbols and having overly interpretative trainers, they may be able to speak to us via BCIs. However, it's still up in the air if they converse with each other like we do, which will naturally retard our ability to communicate beyond basic commands and questions (which is closer to what we ought to expect from dogs).

 

Dolphins, though, we already know to be able to hold organized conversations. We just don't understand what they're saying. So I'm eager to see the effects of BCIs there.


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#11
Singularity11

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Is this a big development? I first started getting interested in transhumanism back in 2005 when I read some of Ray Kurzweil's books. A lot has changed since then, but this seems to be a major step toward the singularity?

But perhaps I am been far too optimistic, and maybe a healthy dose of short term pessimism is called for.

https://interestinge...cal-singularity

#12
Singularity11

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How do I fix the spelling error in thread title?

#13
Outlook

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What does BCI have to do with the singularity. I thought the singularity was when AI reaches the ability to improve itself.

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#14
Alislaws

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I guess the singularity could occur when humans uisng BCIs become super intelligent? 

 

If the singularity is supposed to be the point where our ability to predict things breaks down because we have no experience of superintelligence and therefore no way to predict what it would do then this could be bought about by BCI or even genetic re-engineering rather than through AI.



#15
wjfox

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I merged your thread. Please check for other threads before creating a new one.



#16
starspawn0

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Siraj Raval's take on Neuralink:

YouTube video

Many of those are bit too "out there" -- it's going to take decades before we see many of those things using invasive methods.

By the way, near the end he mentions an upcoming program about Kernel's progress. They are another big BCI company, that has kept pretty quiet about what they've been up to. Apparently, they are working on both invasive and non-invasive methods. You may recall this post from a few months back:

https://medium.com/f...ll-1294e30fc93b
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#17
Alislaws

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Could we use brain implants to determine which animals are sentient? 

We Could, but i'm pretty sure an MRI could do the same, sentience is technically just the ability to experience sensation, so its a pretty broad category that includes most living things (although not most plants and possibly not all insects?)

 

Although, especially in sci-fi sentient and sapient get mixed up all the time. We could probably use the BCI to figure out how sapient an animal was but if it only monitors a limited number of neurons it may be a while before we have enough coverage to get a good idea of everything that's going on in  a chimps head.  



#18
Jessica

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Another step toward creating brain-reading technology

by Bob Yirka , Medical Xpress

A team of researchers at the University of California's Department of Neurological Surgery and the Center for Integrative Neuroscience in San Francisco has taken another step toward the development of a device able to read a person's mind. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the Facebook-funded group describes their work with epilepsy patients and the technology they developed that allowed them to read some human thoughts.

 

Technology to peer inside the human mind to monitor thoughts has been explored in science fiction for years. But in recent years, scientists have made important strides toward creating such devices. For example, brain-computer interfaces currently exist that allow a person to spell out words using a virtual keyboard. But it is slow going. In this new effort, the researchers report that they were able to read some complete words from the minds of epilepsy patients.

 

https://medicalxpres...technology.html


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