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Elon Musk’s grand plan for your brain includes adding new senses

Published Apr 21st, 2017 9:43AM EDT
elon musk neuralink
Image: Neil Conway

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Between serving as the boss of both Tesla and SpaceX, you probably wouldn’t imagine that Elon Musk has a ton of time to devote to new business ventures. You’d be wrong, because he’s about to be the CEO of a third company and — if you can possibly believe it — this new startup has ambitions that go far beyond gas-free driverless cars and space exploration. It’s called Neuralink, and its ultimate aim is to merge man and machine into something much greater than either.

Neuralink, like Musk’s other business ventures, has a multi-level plan of attack. The relatively short-term goal is to develop and iterate upon brain-machine interfaces that will open the door to new medical advancements and treatment options for people suffering from a variety of ailments. Mood disorders, Parkinson’s, OCD, and other brain-related medical issues could rapidly be corrected if we had a more reliable, thorough, and minimally-invasive way of telling our brain exactly what it needs to do.

Once a sustainable business model is reached, revenue can be funneled into development of the ultimate goal, which for Neuralink is the almost complete computerization of the human brain. Musk and the Neuralink team envision a future where technology augments human thought and mental ability in such a profound way that it actually adds new senses. A fantastic long-form breakdown on Wait But Why offers the example of a computer-assisted mind being beefed up for bird-watching, with the addition of sensory hardware that could allow you to “feel” the presence of a bird and know exactly where it is.

Of course, those days are a long way from where we stand today, and the hurdles that stand between the present and Musk’s end goal for the company are many. Luckily for us, like Tesla and SpaceX before it, Neuralink’s achievements and setbacks will be heavily publicized, so we’ll get to see every step of the journey.

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