Neuralink, the secretive company Tesla founder El0n Musk launched in 2017, came out of the shadows last night and unveiled that it’s made some staggering leaps in creating an implantable device that can read a user’s mind, reports Bloomberg.
At an event at the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco, Musk showed off the device, which looks like a small pod worn behind the ear. However, that pod has small threads that are surgically implanted through the wearer’s skull and into their brain. It is that implantation that allows the user to communicate with the device using only their thoughts.
Such a device could allow the user to control virtually any device with only their mind, from smartphones to televisions, to electric vehicles via a wireless connection between the pod and the device. However, right now whether such a device will actually work on humans is unknown. Neuralink has only used the device with some success in rats and monkeys. But the company hopes to start human clinical trials next year on patients with complete paralysis due to an upper spinal cord injury.
If successful, the device could be a game-changer in the lives of patients with injuries that limit their physical movements. But Musk ultimately envisions his device as something that every human being will wear. Musk has long claimed that the only way humans will be able to keep up with AI in the future is if we become symbiotic with machines–basically if we become cyborgs.
“This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” Musk said. “This is not a mandatory thing. It is a thing you can choose to have if you want. This is something that I think will be really important on a civilization-level scale.”