Elon Musk's Neuralink reveals new prototype, promises mind control within months

Neuralink unveils new prototype, hints at human trials and mind control

Neuralink, the neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk, has unveiled its third-generation prototype that promises mind control and the ability to stream music into people's brains.

During the company's latest presentation, Musk revealed that the new prototype is smaller and more flexible than previous versions. He also claimed that the company is "close to ready for human trials."

"This is perhaps a nitty-gritty detail, but we've improved the wiring geometry," Musk said during the presentation. "It's very similar to the design of a cat's whisker. If you look at a cat's whiskers, there's a nerve that comes out of the cat's tongue, and there's cartilage, and the cartilage is very flexible and narrow."

"It's incredibly trivial, but we've improved the flexibility of the wiring geometry, and also the amount of wiring coming out of each implant, to make it less prone to infections and also something that's a little more indefinitely scalable," he continued.

Musk also highlighted that the new hardware means Neuralink can start to work with more complex brain regions and hopefully allow paralyzed people to run video games and simulations "as easily as they would on a computer."

"I think we'll probably have something that works on a monkey around the size of a large monkey, and [then] on a humanoid around the size of a medium-sized dog," he predicted.

When asked about the timeline for human trials, Musk kept his cards close to his chest, saying that it "depends on how quickly we can get ethics approval and so forth."

However, he seemed remarkably confident about the company's prospects, stating that "hopefully, we can do human trials within the next six months."

Assuming the company does indeed move forward with human trials, it's unclear what the potential roadmap would look like for the technology. While the initial applications have been focused on helping those with neurological disorders or paralysis, Musk has long been obsessed with the idea of merging humans and machines.

Earlier in the presentation, Musk explained that the technology could allow someone to "listen to music directly in their mind." He even claimed that it could eventually allow people to receive calls from anywhere in the world and have those calls "directly in your mind."

"You'll be able to answer the phone even if you're in noise and you'll be able to hear the signal, hear the voice, without any noise whatsoever," he claimed.

For now, it's important to remember that a lot of what Musk says about Neuralink tends to be speculative and, even with the latest prototype reveal, the company is still a long way from realizing those ambitions.

Neuralink was founded in 2016 and initially focused on building digital layers that could be placed on top of the brain to help those who have suffered spinal cord injuries, paralysis, or other conditions that prevent them from using digital devices.

The company's first reveal was accompanied by a grotesque video showing a pig named Gertrude with a Neuralink implant in her brain. Soon after, Musk explained that the company hoped to begin human trials in 2020.

That, of course, didn't happen, and following a series of delays, Musk announced in November 2020 that the company's focus would shift to developing a robot capable of safely implanting the Neuralink chips in people's brains.

Since then, reports have surfaced claiming that the company has begun recruiting volunteers for human trials, although neither Neuralink nor Musk has commented on these reports.

Musk's companies have a long history of releasing incomplete or heavily delayed products, however, that hasn't stopped Neuralink from gathering some serious hype despite very little concrete information about the current state of the technology, where it's being tested, and how it might be used in the future.

With any luck, these recent revelations will be followed by more concrete details about when we can expect human trials to begin and, eventually, how much of Musk's sci-fi dreams can become a reality.

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