Neuralink Multi-thousand Channel Brain Interface Implantation Surgery

The full Neuralink paper describing how their multi-thousand channel brain interface system will be built and implanted is here. It is called “An integrated brain-machine interface platform with thousands of channels”.

Neuralink believes the key to high fidelity brain interfaces is to precisely reading the electrical spiking of the brain.

They call this roughly ten thousand probe sensors as the N1 system. Clearly the N2 system would be at least 10 times or 100 times higher in channel count. They want to reach the entire motor cortex and decode all signals. The current system would maximally scale to a few million probes and connections but they will have to get much smaller for billions of connections and sensors.

Neuralink wants to implant the system into a human by the end of 2020. Elon Musk described a 2-millimeter keyhole incision that would be created to implant the devices in under one hour. The hole would be glued shut with surgical glue. The needle of the surgery robot currently has a 24-micron needle.

The surgery needle is milled from 40 μm diameter tungsten-rhenium wire-stock electrochemically etched to 24 μm diameter along the inserted length. The tip of the needle is designed both to hook onto insertion loops—for transporting and inserting individual threads—and to penetrate the meninges and brain tissue. The needle is driven by a linear motor allowing variable insertion speeds and rapid retraction acceleration (up to 30,000 mm s−2) to encourage separation of the probe from the needle. The pincher is a 50 μm tungsten wire bent at the tip and driven both axially and rotationally. It serves as support for probes during transport and as a guide to ensure that threads are inserted along the needle path.

Neuralink (Elon Musk’s company) have built arrays of small and flexible electrode “threads”, with as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads. They have also built a neurosurgical robot

Other researchers have demonstrated human neuroprosthetic control of computer cursors, robotic limbs, and speech synthesizers using no more than 256 electrodes.

Neuralink will have a wireless interface to the chip.

The electrode array is packaged into a small implantable device that contains custom chips for low-power on-board amplification and digitization: the package for 3,072 channels occupies less than (23 × 18.5 × 2) cubic millimeter. A single USB-C cable provides full-bandwidth data streaming from the device, recording from all channels simultaneously. This system has achieved a spiking yield of up to 85.5 % in chronically implanted electrodes. Neuralink’s approach to BMI has unprecedented packaging density and scalability in a clinically relevant package.

32 thoughts on “Neuralink Multi-thousand Channel Brain Interface Implantation Surgery”

  1. This is so so weak. My company already has developed self directed growing carbon tube neural netting that grows into the brain without disruption with up to 30 Billion sensory points. It just naturally heads for the neurons with the most activity, growing and adjusting to brain activity. … You should hear where this story leads, but the marketing people won’t let me tell you 🙂

  2. Currently there is a email application allowing only paid to the receivers emails to get thru the spam filter.
    I would just add the same to my neuralink. Everything added to my feed must be paid what I ask before being added. You can get me one hour of video, if you pay me $ 1M. 2 hours for 10 M, and so on.

  3. I won’t have to imagine it. The smartphones will comes with an app that pipes Lord Xi’s joy directly into my brain.

  4. “You want to be a millennial who only knows how to Google?”

    People confuse access to knowledge with knowledge. There’s a difference between knowing that 2+2 = 4 and understanding the transitive property of addition.

  5. Personally i’d be thinking about RF interference or the occasional EMP attack.

    Then again i’m not a candidate for this as my brain is doing great as it is.

  6. Imagine the joy Lord Xi will feel when he can wire up all the pesky Uighrs so that they can assemble smartphones 19 hours a day.

  7. After a certain level of automation, if everything is free, what’ll be the point of advertising? Political ads, on the other hand…

  8. Many technologies are double-edged swords. Fire is a common example: it’s obviously dangerous, it brought us guns and explosives and deadly wars; one could even count nuclear weapons as a type of “fire”; but it also enabled all the advances of metal working, industry, chemistry and medicine, transportation, and all of the other technologies of the modern world. With all of their good and bad.

  9. This is just an early iteration. Of course there will be refinements and better approaches in the future. Think of the first bulky mobile phones, vs today’s smartphones, and everything that went in between.

  10. In the long run, BCIs will be as transformative as the invention of print, if not the invention of writing.

  11. Wee need to take this technology to mars. Our new home. Along with lots of incense and red robs with deep hoods…

  12. I’m generally all for technological advancement, but I think this particular technology is very dangerous and can lead to unintended consequences more than it will help. If you already think we’re living in a society of Haves and Have-nots, this will multiply that problem by orders of magnitude. One good thing about this technology is that it could be used to keep general AI in check if it gets too smart for humans to control, but then again the cyborgs with chips implanted inside their brains would just as likely side with the AI as they would with regular humans.

  13. You don’t agree to have a theme park built inside you if your life’s going great.

    -Rick and Morty

  14. I’m fine with augmenting my neocortex. But not in “the cloud”, thank you.

    You want to lose half your mind every time you lose cell coverage? You want to find out about the latest data breach the really hard way?

    Remember, “the cloud” just means, “other people’s computers”.

  15. The only reason I’m interested is that I’m 60, and already noticing that I’m not as sharp as I used to be. I’m nowhere near dull enough to agree to have my brain turned into a pincushion yet, but I could see myself agreeing to something like this ten years from now, if it could deliver some added clarity of thought.

    The potential downsides of this are enormous, obviously. You’d need to be in pretty bad shape to volunteer for it.

  16. Agreed. I couldn’t be more excited about the potential of this tech, but I will be far from the front of the line for this.

  17. I’ve waited, what, ten, twenty years to get LASIK? I thought there’d be unexpected side effects or longterm risks. LASIK seems to be fine, but what about Neuralink? Will those threads get infected? Will they cause inflexibility in the brain, impeding the creation of new neurons or connections? It’s gonna take 10-20 years before I feel safe putting one of those things in my head.

  18. It isn’t the way. Too intrusive. Need to find another way of interfacing to the brain that doesn’t require surgery. Maybe nanobots that can cross the brain blood barrier and station themselves in the brain. They can then interface with synapse and the outside world.

  19. Most people seem fine with the idea of living in a universe where Hyper Intelligent omniscient beings (gods) exist and control everything. So perhaps nothing will change…on the other hand, these new gods will have actual human avatars actually able to interact with us (the unenhanced masses). Will humans make good gods? What happens if we kill their avatar? Some interesting stories here…

  20. That’s a Ray Kurzweil idea as well: biological evolution gave us a neocortex; technological evolution will augment it by connecting it to the cloud. Then the neocortex won’t be limited in size by the skull. It will hitch a ride on the exponential train and leave unaltered humans far behind.

  21. Would you know its an advert? Walking down the street, past a bar which is genuinely advertising “FREE BEER”, only to then find its a fake popup ad squirted directly into your senses.

    Never mind all the cute slavic looking girls that are going to start chatting me up in random places, like at work.

  22. The direction I see this heading in is supplanting the cerebral cortex with a new layer, one that resides in the cloud. If most of your cognition is not in your body anymore, then are you really still you? As for unplugging the power if things go wrong, you may become so dependent on this tech that you can’t function without it.

  23. Imagine the joy you’ll feel when someone hacks the system and you get 24 hours of autoplay video ads piped directly into your visual cortex, even when your eyes are closed.

  24. Imagine the possibilities when this thing reaches 1 million electrodes connected to the 5 senses O.o

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