Space, construction, finance, vehicles- it seems as though any industry would be left incomplete without the touch of Elon Musk. A recent addition to his playground of companies was made in 2016, Neuralink. While Musk’s views on AI and its negative impact has been making headlines he clearly could not give up on making an investment in this field either.

Neuralink was started with the vision of creating an interface for the communication between the computer and the brain. Such feats have been achieved since 2006 when those with paralysis could control computer cursors or play games with brain machines developed during that time, thus making this idea a not so novel one. However, this biotech startup aims to improve and overcome the challenges faced by those conventional brain machines.

This July they revealed their efforts so far in bringing to life their vision. The technology involves a compact device placed behind the ears and is connected to a set of chips embedded into the skull. Each chip will have thin fibre-like thread that reach into the brain and listen in to the messages transferred between the neurons. These threads are flexible unlike the one’s used in the contemporary brain machines. This flexibility ensures that the brain cells are not damaged. The most alluring part of this project however is not in its development but rather its implementation. The company has developed a robot surgeon to perform the gargantuan task of embedding the chips.

While all concepts seem pitch-perfect on paper it’s development may not be quite as smooth. Many question the ethics of such an endeavour and it is clear that its implementation will be met with much dispute.

All this may seem to have popped up right out of a science fiction movie but it’s about time we realize that concepts such as cyborgs or probably an idea as farfetched as seen in the Avatar may be closer to reality than we expect.

(You can follow further developments of Neuralink through their website www.neuralink.com. Also if this project fascinates you and you feel as though you could contribute to its development, give it a shot and apply to be a part of the board)

Anna Susan Cherian