What is Elon Musk’s “Brain-Computer Interface”?


Neuralink, a research and neurotechnology company founded by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2016, is about to introduce a technology that will connect the human brain to a computer. So what exactly is the “brain-computer interface”, what does it do? Why does Elon Musk want to connect the human brain to a computer?

Elon Musk, a name we know mostly in space studies with SpaceX and in the field of automotive with Tesla, actually has initiatives that carry out studies in different fields. One of these initiatives is the research company Neuralink, which operates without any profit. Founded in 2016, Neuralink’s goal is to establish an intuitive connection between the human brain and – in rough terms – machines. In other words, giving our brain the opportunity to direct computers and everything connected to them with thought.

The brain-machine or brain-computer interface that we have explained quite superficially so far is actually not such a simple and shallow concept. Because computers are getting smaller and smaller; In an era when virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies are becoming widespread, these technologies; It is an important field of study as well as transferring the human brain to the computer environment. Neuralink, on the other hand, aims to be one of the leading companies in this field. Let’s take a closer look at the basis of this event.

What is the brain-computer interface?

Computer-based systems that perceive, analyze and transmit signals related to the action required to take place in the brain are called brain-computer interface or brain-machine interface. These technologies, known as the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) in English, can in principle be used with any kind of brain signal. It is possible to capture these signals by means of a chip implant in the brain or electrodes placed on the scalp.

In other words, the first step of the technologies we see in science fiction books, movies or series is taken. When the brain-computer interfaces receive and interpret the signals in the human brain and execute commands, we have the power to control almost any device connected to the Internet. So our brain is included in the Internet of Things network. We are faced with a daunting, exciting and challenging technology at the same time.

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The reason why brain computer interfaces are promising is that they can make the lives of people with disabilities easier than ever. The exciting side is that it meets our optimistic expectations that will be possible with this technology. For example, it will be possible to write these lines without the need for a keyboard, just by thinking. Of course, these are well-meaning expectations. On the other side of the coin, there are frightening expectations such as being able to control UAVs or armaments on the other side of the world with the power of thought with brain-computer interfaces. As with every technological development, it seems that intentions will determine our expectations.

What kind of a brain-computer interface is expected from Elon Musk’s Neuralink company?

Elon Musk, who announced that they will show a working brain-computer interface in the past days, gave signals to meet the already high expectations. However, Musk is not the only company working in this field. There are known studies of companies such as Facebook and Microsoft on the brain-computer interface. On the other hand, studies in this area continue in the world of science.

It is not clear whether we will see a job worthy of adjectives such as “inventor, successful businessman, genius” that Musk acquired with SpaceX and Tesla. DARPA, which has developed its rivals and even the internet of the USA, continues its laboratory studies with an investment of 65 million dollars. Although Facebook has not announced a net amount yet, it acquired Ctrl-labs, a private research company working on this issue with an investment of 500 million to 1 billion dollars. For this reason, what we will see from Elon Musk will be a prototype no matter what. Perhaps we come across a professionally made-up version of the brain machine interfaces seen so far.


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