Elon Musk wants everyone to get brain surgery. Specifically, he wants everyone to get a brain implant — the brain-machine interface created by his company, Neuralink. He says it will be able to solve any number of medical conditions — including paralysis, anxiety, and addiction.
Machines that connect to the human brain and translate the electrical signals to a computer have been around since 2006. Since then, neuroscientists and engineers have made incremental improvements to that technology. Musk’s Neuralink slots into that work: the company developed a system of thin wires that snake into the brain, which may cause less damage than the usual rigid spikes. But Musk’s ambitions also go far beyond altering the architecture of machine-brain devices. Apart from treating brain-based medical conditions, he also said during a recent press event that, eventually, Neuralink’s device could enable things like telepathy or interactions between the brain and artificial intelligence.
For now, those goals are very much out of reach. Scientists need to learn far more about the brain and how it works for any of those ideas to become reality. The brain is still mysterious, and the neurological causes of things like anxiety and addiction are still unclear. In the latest Verge Science video, we explore what Neuralink might be able to do, and what elements of Musk’s proposals need more science behind them.