Elon Musk‘s mysterious Neuralink startup is working on a brain-computer interface that will allow wearers to stream music directly to their brain.
Elon Musk himself can’t seem to help himself from teasing the brain-computer interface. On Sunday afternoon, when computer scientist Austin Howard asked Musk on Twitter if we could one day listen to music directly through such an interface — streaming it directly into the brain, in other words, with no headphones needed — Musk replied with a curt “yes.”
His brain-hacking startup called Neuralink is currently getting ready for a massive reveal event on August 28.
It’s still entirely unclear if Neuralink’s brain-computer interfaces will ever be able to bypass the ear, the cochlear nerves, and beam music magically to the auditory brain. But Musk has already set his sights on bigger things. When asked by another Twitter user if Neuralink’s devices could also help “stimulate the release of oxytocin, serotonin, and other chemicals when needed,” Musk replied with another “yes.”
Responding to computer scientist Austin Howard, Mr Musk confirmed that Neuralink’s technology would allow people to “listen to music directly from our chips.” He also said that Neuralink “could help control hormone levels and use them to our advantage (enhanced abilities and reasoning, anxiety relief, etc.).”
Speaking at the 2019 event, Mr Musk said the firm was working on a “sewing machine-like” device that would provide a direct connection between a computer and a chip inserted within the brain.
The technology could will first be used to help people suffering from brain diseases like Parkinson’s, but the ultimate aim of Neuralink is to allow humans to compete with advanced artificial intelligence, he said.
The process of having the chip fitted will be similar to Lasik laser eye surgery, according to Mr Musk
The aim is to create a full brain interface within 25 years. This would mean that humans could connect to devices with just their minds. Musk wants his brain implants to stop humans being outpaced by artificial intelligence.
Earlier this month, Mr Musk hinted that Neuralink’s chip will be able to cure depression and addiction by “retraining” the parts of the brain responsible for these afflictions.
Neuralink, which was founded in 2016, has already tested an early, wired version of this implant in rats (and Musk indicated it has enabled a monkey to control a computer with his brain, too); Musk said human trials could start by the end of next year, though the company doesn’t yet have approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for such a study. (And, it should be noted, Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has a history of making outlandish technological claims: for instance, the he said in a recent interview that getting humans to Mars in 4 years “sounds doable.”)
Trials have already been carried out on animals and human trials were originally scheduled to take place this year, though details are yet to be made public. More information is set to be announced on 28 August.