Yesterday was Neuralink’s unveiling of what they’ve been working on. Their team of engineers, neurosurgeons, and computer science experts are working on a “neural lace” brain-computer interface.
Elon Musk announced the launch of a company to work on this problem back in 2016. Seeing this amount of progress, it’s clear now that the science fiction story of a cybernetic implant looks like a possible near future reality. The idea itself conjures images of Neuromancer’s console cowboys and Effinger’s “moddies”, neural augmentations that enable things like plugging into the matrix and personality modification.
The near-term intent that Neuralink is after is to use the lace as an assistive technology for those with motor impairments and other medical conditions. But there are moonshot goals to “increase the bandwidth” between computers and the human mind.
The whole idea gives new meaning to the famous Steve Jobs quote:
What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.
If Neuralink is successful, instead of being limited by the bandwidth of the inputs — keyboard, mouse, touchscreen — and outputs — pixels and sound waves — we’ll have a two-way massive digital pipeline in between. A supersonic jet for the mind.