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    • After reading the Kelly and Zach Weinersmith book SOONISH which is focused on futuristic science innovations, including direct computer / brain interfaces...

      I was extremely intrigued to see the below announcement via Twitter by Elon Musk that Neuralink will be livestreaming a presentation of some kind at 8 PM PST today.

      As per their official site: Neuralink develops high bandwidth and safe brain-machine interfaces.

      There's not a lot out there about Neuralink just yet, but MIT's Technology Review has written an article summarizing what they think might be announced later today.

      With all this brain-implant / interface talk I was reminded (of course) of the 1995 scifi classic film JOHNNY MNEMONIC with Keanu Reeves - but I'll do my best to stay up late and live-update Cake with the findings! Will you be tuning in? What do you think Elon has in store?

    • I think they are putting the horse behind the cart not really knowing how to interface a brain, but it's a good topic to attract investments.

      "One possible approach involves an array of flexible probes inserted into the brain with a system resembling a sewing machine, an idea described by researchers reportedly associated with Neuralink. That's a lot cruder than the organically grown nanotechnological neural laces you'll find inside the brains of sci-fi characters, but it's remarkable that the technology is even under discussion."

    • Here's what Zach had to say about some types of neural implants in his Cake Panel:

      So a guy named Kennedy invented these. The idea is you have a tiny piece of glass, you connect wires to it, and next to the wires are nutrients for neurons, and you implant this in someone’s head. And why would you do this, you ask? So instead of sticking a probe into someone’s brain, the neurons grow over and into it. So in theory it’s a better way to get data on a small number of neurons.

      Obviously it’s quite invasive - there’s a story in the book about the guy who invented it getting it implanted in his own head, because he couldn’t get funding or research patients. The general case with a lot of this brain stuff is that the brain is not a computer - a computer doesn’t have a physical immune system that doesn’t like having stuff stuck in it, which worsens the signal and also causes brains to inflame.

      But it’s a wonderful story. This guy can’t get subjects, or funding, so he goes to Belize, and they put in these neurotropic implants he designed. How he found a surgeon to convince is incredible to me, and I guess he got interesting data, and like most neural implants, the data faded over time. He did lose his ability to read for a little while, but the weirdest part of his story was he needed it removed and he was able to get insurance to cover it?!?! So insurance won’t cover birth control, but it will cover the cost of having an illegal brain implant removed. 

      A bit more about Kennedy:

    • One thing am really curious to understand, is WHAT exactly signals are they expecting to READ from the brain? And my guess is they don't really know allot, just trying and hoping..

      I mean, if I needed to connect a printer to my PC, then I used to use the LPT (line printer port in the old days). Or to connect a display I'd use the VGA port. But we knew what goes in and comes out, and where, these people do not know, in my opinion they are just trying to discover it!

    • I will tune in for sure!!

      I went to a brain summit at MIT last May and you could buy helmets with electrodes like this and tell in general what you were thinking about by the regions of the brain that lit up.

    • Well it started late and was somewhat disorganized, at least Elon was, but every second was fascinating to me.

      The gist is the brain can take inputs from the outside world in high bandwidth ways through vision, hearing, touch, smell...but it outputs very slowly, via our thumbs.

      They are inventing chips that can be installed with a simple robotic procedure, like Lasik, that can be scaled to lots of humans. It requires just a 2mm incision that can be dilated to 8, then closed up with glue. It doesn't even need a stitch. You don't feel it. A controller is placed behind your ear in a package that looks like a hearing aid and communicates via bluetooth.

    • Another article in Bloomberg:

      The company will seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to start clinical trials on humans as early as next year, according to President Max Hodak. The goal is to drill four 8mm holes into paralyzed patients’ skulls and insert implants that will give them the ability to control computers and smartphones using their thoughts. Yes, really. “A lot of people have written this off like it’s impossible,” says Hodak. “There will be great things to come in this field in the next decade, and they should take it seriously.”

      Neuralink, which has raised more than $150 million from investors, including at least $100 million from Chief Executive Officer Musk, is betting that millions of people will eventually elect to become cybernetically enhanced. “This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” Musk says at a news conference Tuesday night in San Francisco. “This is not a mandatory thing. It is a thing you can choose to have if you want. This is something that I think will be really important on a civilization-level scale.”

      Philosophers, sci-fi enthusiasts, and daydreamers have long imagined what it might be like to turbocharge their brainpower or read someone else’s thoughts. Lately, a number of startups have tried to find out. Companies such as CTRL-labs and Kernel are working on external devices to detect neurons’ firing patterns from outside a person’s body and transmit them to a computer. The next level up is figuring out how to safely insert a device into the brain, where the neural signals are the strongest and the process can go much faster.

      This has proved tricky, to say the least. Inserting electrical wires and other devices into the brain requires a great deal of precision. And the brain tends to treat probes as foreign invaders, forming scar tissue around the wires and muddying their ability to carry clear signals. People in dire circumstances have been willing to implant devices that stimulate parts of their brain to, say, regain some vision or tame tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. But these processes often carry serious long-term risks. Neuralink’s goal is to leave its sort of mind-reading computer sitting safely and indefinitely inside someone’s
      head. “All of this will occur actually quite slowly,” Musk says. “It’s not going to be like suddenly, Neuralink will have this incredible neural lace and start taking over people’s brains. It will take a long time, and you will see it coming.”

    • All the talk about the teensy threads reminded me very much of an excellent excellent but for some reason hardly known sci-fi book - Synners, by Pat Cadigan. It had the threads, and much more (it is less hard scifi and more very intensely ethical/emotional around the issues, in a beautifully crafted way). Highly recommended.

    • helmets with electrodes like this and tell in general what you were thinking about by the regions of the brain that lit up

      Chris, are you saying this exact science is already at the foundation of the current emoji's available in Cake?

    • Hahaha, the more I use our initial emoji selection, the more I think we need some substitutes to light up other parts of the brain. Food for a different conversation.