Watch Live! Elon Musk’s Neuralink Demonstrates Its Brain To Machine Interface

by birtanpublished on November 2, 2020

all right welcome to the neuralink product demo i'm really excited to show you what we've got i think it's going to blow your mind so the the primary purpose of this demo is

Actually recruiting so i'm going to emphasize this at the beginning and then again at the end we're we're not trying to raise money or uh do anything else with the the main purpose of this is to convince great people to come work at neurolink and help us bring the product to fruition make it affordable and reliable and uh and such that anyone who wants one can have one and um so i want to emphasize the the purpose of neural link like

What do we what's our goal our goal is to solve important spine and brain problems with a seamlessly seamlessly implanted device so you want to have a device that you can basically put in your head um and feel and look totally normal but it solves uh some some important problem in your brain or spine and the reality is that almost everyone over time will develop brain and spine problems these range from

Minor to very severe but if you live long enough you you everyone's going to basically have some kind of neurological disorder and these range you know from memory loss to brain damage but um the thing that's important to appreciate is that uh is is that a an implantable um device can actually solve these problems um i think a lot of people don't don't quite realize that um but all of these the all of your senses

Your sight hearing feeling um pain uh these are all electrical signals sent by neurons to your brain and if you can uh correct these signals you can solve everything from memory loss many less hearing loss blindness paralysis depression insomnia extreme pain seizures anxiety addiction strokes brain damage these can be insult these can all be solved with an implantable uh uh neural link

This is uh an extremely fundamental thing and i think a lot of people don't quite understand that um neurons are like wiring um and you kind of need an electronic thing to solve an electronic problem so current medical research uh we'll just go through what is the state of the art in medical research and then and then what's the state of the art in what consumers or people in general can get so the current medical research uh has shown that you can uh read

Neurons in a human's brain so something called the utah array which has about 100 channels per array but it's it's kind of like a it's a bed of rigid spikes that's literally inserted with an air hammer so you know that's slightly discomforting i think and there's a big there's there's wires and a box on your head and so it's some infection risk um and obviously it will look pretty weird if you walk around with boxes on your head um and in order to use it you have to have an

Expert medical profession professional there and it's only been done in a few dozen people so um but it is served as an important important proof of concept that this can be done so we didn't want to uh point this out and ensure that this is actually does work it's just not something that the average person could use effectively and in terms of what is currently available there is something called deep brain stimulation where they put electrodes a small number

Of electrodes in your brain and will actually zap your brain with an electric current and it's valuable for its uses but can't read or write high bandwidth information um i would say this is sort of a bit like sort of kicking the tv which does work but not always and it has limitations nonetheless this has greatly helped over 150 000 people and it's so it's actually just despite being somewhat of a brute force approach it has been very effective for a lot of people

And this is what's currently available so we want to radically improve this by multiple orders of magnitude improved by a factor of a hundred then a thousand then ten thousand so uh going into the neural link architecture what we've done over the past year is dramatically simplify the device so we we about a year ago we had a device which uh had uh multiple parts including a piece that had to sort of sit behind your ear and it was it was it was complex and you

And you wouldn't still look totally normal you'd have a thing behind your ear so um we've simplified this to simply something that is uh about the size of a large coin um and it goes uh inner skull replaces a piece of skull um and the wires uh then then connect uh within a few centimeters or about an inch away from the device um and this is sort of what it looks like so this is that little device it does that

Thing at the bottom is just to hold the threads in place because they're just like little fine wires um i mean frankly to to sort of simplify this uh what what were i mean it's more complicated than this but it's in a lot of ways it's kind of like a fitbit in your skull with tiny wires so um and it's uh yeah so our current prototype version 0.9 has about a thousand channels so that's about 100 times better than the the next

Best consumer device that's available and it's a 23 millimeters by eight millimeters it actually uh fits quite nicely in your skull because your skull is about 10 millimeters thick so it fits it goes flush with your skull it's invisible and all you can see afterwards is that there's a tiny scar and if it's under your hair you can't see it at all in fact i could have a neural link right now and you wouldn't know maybe i do

So and it's also got all the things that you would expect to see the sensors you'd expect to see in a smart watch or a phone like inertial measurement temperature pressure so there's actually a lot of functions that this device could do related to monitoring your health and warning you about a possible heart attack or stroke or other uh damage as well as uh sort of convenience features like playing music um you do a lot um it's sort of like if your

Phone went at your brain or something um yeah maybe that's not a great analogy um all right so it's also inductively charged so um it's charged in the same way that you showed you charge a smartwatch or a phone um and so you can use it all day uh charge it at night and have full functionality so you would really um you know it would be completely seamless uh and uh yeah no wires uh in terms of getting a link so that we

You need to have the device uh a great device and you also need to have a great robot that puts in the the electrodes and it does the surgery so you want the surgery to be as as automated and as possible and the only way you can achieve the level of precision that's needed is with an advanced robot so we're really looking for great people who can help develop both the device and the robot and we feel confident about getting the the link procedure

The the installation of a link done in under an hour so you can basically go in the morning and leave the hospital in the afternoon and it can be done without general anesthesia so in terms of getting a link like i said it's essentially uh you open a piece of sculpt um you remove uh about a coin sized piece of skull uh and then the robot inserts the electrodes uh we'll talk more about that later uh then the device replaces the portion

Of skull that was removed and we we basically closed that up with actually a super glue which is how a lot of wounds are closed and uh and then you can just walk around right after right afterwards it's pretty cool so this is our surgical robot and we actually ultimately want this robot to do essentially the entire surgery so in everything from from incision uh removing the the skull inserting the electrodes placing the device and then closing things up and having you ready to leave so

We want to have a fully automated system and we've to clear this this robot that does actually work we've used it for all of the implantations um so this shows you um a sort of close-up view which i think is actually not too gruesome of the electrodes being inserted in the brain and if you look closely you'll see that it's a little counterintuitive that if the electrodes are inserted very carefully

That there is no bleeding and so the if you have very tiny electrodes and if they're inserted very carefully so the robot actually images the brain and makes sure to avoid any veins or arteries so that the electrodes can be inserted with no noticeable damage so you will have no noticeable uh neural damage uh in inserting the link yeah like you sort of think if you stab something with a wire surely it will bleed but actually at

A really small scale it does not so does it actually work and what i'm excited to show you um i'll quote like the three little pigs demo um and if our uh i don't have this we're bringing out the the pigs and what we're going to show you is a well i'll walk right over and show you so what we have in pen number one is joyce uh and she does not have an implant obviously healthy and happy um we're trying to get gertrude out and this is how you know it's a live demo she's a little she's like just trying to

Eat something in the corner of her pan um come on get rid snacks are this way oh man all right we'll wait we'll give go to a second and we'll move on to dorothy sometimes the pigs are a little shy so here's dorothy and in the case of dorothy dorothy used to have an implant and then we remove the implant so this is a very important thing to demonstrate is reversibility so if you if you have a neural link and then you decide you don't want it or

You want to get an upgrade and the neural link is removed isn't removed in such a way that you are still healthy and happy afterwards and what dorothy illustrates is that you can put in the neural link remove it and be healthy happy and indistinguishable from a normal pig thanks dorothy man gertrude are you serious okay um should we bring them all out or something would that be better

How about everyone everyone just comes into this pen remember have a few it'll be a little crowded whatever okay all right well is groceries still back in the thing yeah okay we need to bring roach out the beauty of live demos this is real live demo all right wait wait you can zoom in to do go to something she's clearly very interested in something at the back of a pen

Can you see her all right all right this might take a sec um well this worked earlier um all right well what if we if we lift the curtain and then zoom in all right here we go great okay great okay this is a high energy pig um all right thanks for coming out um so what you're the beeps you're hearing are real-time signals

From the neural link in gotri's head so this neural link connects to neurons that are in her snout so whenever she schnuffles around and touches something with a snout but that sends out neural spikes which are detected here and so on the screen you can see uh each of the spikes from the 1024 electrodes and and then if you if she yeah she snuffles around touches this knot in the ground or you kind of feed her some food pigs

Love food um then you can see the neurons um will fire much more than when you're not touching this now and uh that's what's making the beeping sound all right cool so as you can see we have a healthy and happy pig initially shy but obviously high energy and and you know kind of loving life and she's had the implant for two months so this is a healthy and happy pig with an implant that is two months old two months old and working well yeah

All right cool and then um we actually have hope this works is so we said well what if we do two neurolink implants and we've been able to uh do uh dual neural link implants uh in actually i think three pigs at this point and we have a couple of them here um and we're able to show that you can actually have multiple neural links implanted um and again healthy and happy and indistinguishable from a normal pig so um so it's possible to have multiple

Links in your head and have them all be sending out signals and you're working well all right see you all right so we just showed you a demonstration of uh reading brain activity and um let's see probably see that um as i'm saying each of those dots represents a neural spike and the um the blue chart at the bottom is showing an accumulation of neural spikes in that region

So uh in in terms of additional brain reading activity when we have say one of our pigs on a treadmill and put it on a treadmill it's very funny concept really and we take the readings from the neurons and we try to predict the position position of the joints um and so we say we have the predicted position of the joints and then we we measure the actual position the joints you can see that they're almost exactly aligned so we're able with a wireless neural neural implant to

Actually predict the position of of all of the limbs in the pig's body with very high accuracy now in terms of of writing to the brain or stim stimulating neurons uh we also need precise control of the electric field in space and time we need a wide range of current for different brain regions some some regions require delicate stimulation some require a lot of current and you want obviously no harm to the brain over time um and the way we um part of the way we

Analyze the the stimulate stimulating neurons uh is with a two uh microscopy i always have trouble pronouncing that microscopy um and uh it's very impressive technology you can actually literally see in real time uh how the neurons are firing so uh the the red sort of things are the neurons red red sort of flashing things are the neurons uh firing or i should say the uh the electrodes firing so the red things are electrodes firing

And then the green are the neuron bodies responding to the current from the electrode so you can see them lighting up different brain regions and then by carefully controlling electric field you can actually have one electrode influence possibly a thousand or ten thousand neurons so although you might only have a thousand electrodes implanted you could be influencing millions of neurons and it's just a similar chart showing uh stimulation at different uh power levels

So like i said for the initial device it's read right in every channel with about a 1024 channels all-day battery life there's quite a long uh range so you can you could you could have uh the range the range being to your phone i should say that's um kind of important thing this would connect to your phone and actually the so the the application uh would be on your phone and the and it would be communicating by by essentially bluetooth lower energy to the device in your head

Um that's why i said in a lot of ways it is like a footbed in your skull with tiny wires so um and then like i said you would not be able to see the device at all it would you would look completely normal and just have a small scar under your hair and we're making good progress towards clinical studies um i'm excited to announce that we received a breakthrough device designation from the fda in july uh thanks to the hard work of the knurling team

So i want to be clear we're working closely with the fda um and will will be extremely rigorous in fact we will um we will significantly significantly exceed the minimum fda guidelines for safety will make this as safe as possible you know just as with with tesla while it is legally possible to ship a one-star car at tesla we the only cars we make are five stars in in every category so we actually maximize safety and we'll

Take the same approach here at neural link and then to emphasize again uh what the goal of this presentation is is recruiting we want people who are great at solving problems to join the company and help us complete this device uh take care of the animals um write the software uh create the chips um and um and and productionize everything um so we need like robotics engineers i know we i think we also especially need people who have

Worked on on product worked on and shipped products so if you've like shipped a smart watch or a phone uh or any kind of complex electronics or complex device or advanced medical devices we'd love for you to contact us and consider working here so and a very important point to emphasize is that you do not need to have prior experience on brains so a lot of people think well i couldn't possibly work neural link because i

Don't know anything about how brains work that's okay you can learn but we need software engineering we need mechanical engineering electrical engineering like i said chep design robotics and all the things that a company needs to work so please send in your resume actually it's not just engineering obviously everything everything in your link so um now let's actually move to questions so we've filed questions that have been

Asked over the internet and so we'll do live q a so bring in a bunch of people from the neuralink team all right all right cool all right so if you have any questions uh please submit your questions to uh the neurolink twitter account and we will try to answer as many questions as we can over the next hour and feel free to ask hard questions that's no problem and we'll do our best to answer them all right let's move over to the team

Perfect yes we will continue monitoring questions until the end of the event so please keep sending them in over twitter elon do you want to come join us all right so the first question is how is the spike detection implemented is it on the asic is it hardware and software updatable yes uh yeah i can answer that so um i'm paul i work um i've had a few different hats i've worked a little bit on digital chip design

And more recently working on some of the algorithms trying to decode the signals from the brain and the spike detection algorithm there's historically been many ways of detecting spikes typically people will record data offline and then look for characteristic shapes but here we're interested in detecting spikes online and there's a number of simple algorithms that you can do for example like detecting just

A threshold and where we've been uh interested in doing a little bit better than that so we actually look for uh particular shapes character shapes that we think are spikes and so we're doing this on the chip um it's for all 1024 uh electrodes there's band-pass filtering that's happening on the chip so if you think of these as like little microphones sending audio information we're basically filtering all of that in real time and then looking for these

Characteristic shapes um you can configure whatever shapes you're looking for and that information is what's being sent out the raw information coming from the lecturers is way too much to send out over bluetooth so when you're seeing those beautiful spike rasters on the screen those are the detections that um we we have coming straight from the chips got it and just for everyone who doesn't know can you just explain at a basic level

What a spike is sure so so uh traditionally um people think of spikes or action potentials as the electrical events that happen uh in neurons and is the primary form of communication between neurons and so this is a hysteresis event where you have currents that flow and generate this you can think of it as being a digital signal a one or a zero that's being sent in time where neurons will send that signal to often thousands of recipient neurons

Awesome thanks paul so i got a question from toby on twitter he asks what can be further done to simplify the device installation progress so we're working on making the device as small as possible of course with the robot taking more and more of the responsibility away from error-prone human surgeons we're hoping to make the process faster and safer actually it might be good for people to say you know

Who they are and what they do i'm matthew mcdougall i'm the neurosurgeon the head neurosurgeon at knurling thanks matt is there anything specifically from the robot that can be done to make this faster and safer and scalable to billions of people um yeah i guess we've started with just implementing you know robot manipulating the threads um but we definitely need to expand to essentially doing the entire surgery with robot

Um so there's nothing like really as far as i can tell fundamentally like stopping us from doing that um sort of like at a fundamental science level it hasn't done in the past i think probably just because uh like volumes of surgeries hasn't been needed but specifically for us to scale up to you know many hundreds of thousands or millions of patients we will need to automate like the entire surgery essentially awesome thank you ian garrett asks what

Are some of the lower bandwidth activities to target first is it muscle movement is it auditory signals what level of bandwidth is required for effective use so there's a couple of uh just to say who you are and what you do hi my name is joey o'doherty i'm a neuroscientist and engineer working on decoding from the brain um so there's some low-hanging fruit that i think can really be impactful to help many people's lives and that's restoring movement and communication

In for example a spinal cord injury patient and there's a lot of antecedents in the academic world where there have been very nice demonstrations of doing this and we think we can take our technology and really bring that to the home something people can take home with them and improve their lives fantastic gil there's a fun one next all you yeah so we're fielding questions from twitter so there's going to be some funny funny comments um first question is who are you and what do you do

I'll lead with that and the question is can the neurolink chip allow you to summon your tesla telepathically definitely of course you heard it here first that's a definite 100 carlos that is the answer um just one bit of information yeah it's very easy that's the easy one actually max this might be a question for you is um yeah like some of the questions we had on twitter was how do you how do you see the neuralink device and the essentially api uh growing over

Time and allowing developers to interact with the device so there's an interesting questions long term about whether you do decoding on head or on a phone or on a computer ultimately so 1000 channels as possible to send all the spike data to a phone and do processing there um as this gets bigger and bigger you're going to be more constrained by the radio so you're going to want to push more of this on head and that changes your programming model um

But really the apis you're getting either bin spikes you're getting raw waveforms and that's like you can consume it basically like an audio feed um yeah it's worth learning like the lossless compression of the data stream is about 100 kilobits with 1024 channels excellent so this one came up a lot and this particular question is from yosef but will this technology ever be used for gaming yeah probably 100 yeah a hundred percent

Yeah i think that a good benchmark of does it work well in humans is can a quadriplegic does it work well enough for them to play starcraft and that's a good functional target yeah for sure yeah awesome we'll pull out uh pull out back uh from the twitter questions that are kind of funny um this is a question for the efficacy of the device um right now is the device limited to surface layers of the brain only or can we go deeper and if not now what's holding us back from going deeper

Into the brain we are planning on modifying the device on the robot to be able to sew into arbitrary depths of the brain right now we're limiting ourselves only to the cortical surface uh because that simplifies many of the problems in involved with going a lot deeper and what kinds of things can you solve on the cortical surface versus when you go deeper sure so um a lot of the low-level processing happens in the cortex

Um in terms of um motor intentions sensory information that comes directly in um so you're hearing your auditory percepts your visual processing a lot of that happens in the cortex i mean you could you could solve blindness blindness um you could solve paralysis if you consult hearing you can solve a lot just by interfacing with the cortex and to be clear we actually do insert um i guess about three or four millimeters into the cortex so these these are these electrodes are sensing from uh multiple layers within

The cortex it's that there are uh deeper brain systems like that are underneath your cortex like the hypothalamus and i think that is something we'd want to interface with for sure um because that's that's going to be important for curing things like depression addiction that kind of thing uh anxiety um so but yeah like as like i said in the presentation overall we're aiming for a

General purpose device um and really the thing that would would change between from interfacing with the cortex versus deep brain systems is kind of the length of the electrode um so we just need kind of longer wires and to uh adjust the robot uh in order to access deeper regions of the brain awesome did you have it now the robot is designed like the full length is like seven centimeters or eight centimeters yeah so

Right now we're designed for like six millimeters the actuator itself isn't actually limited uh to six millimeters you can go much deeper um that's sort of uh in addition to scaling out sort of to the rest of the surgery uh also scaling to deeper which is mostly a sensing problem so the ability to avoid deep vasculature um is sort of an interesting problem that we're working on in the robotics world um here so yeah lots of cool problems on the robot

And you're you're leading robot engineering yeah sorry i'm ian i lead the robotics program here robot is a man's best friend um all right next question is what is the most challenging problem that must be solved in order to meet neurolink's ultimate goal well i think uh one of the harsh problems is kind of i'd say material science and uh the especially the installation of the electrodes what would you say yeah absolutely so you want to introduce yourself

So i'm felix deku um i currently lead the microfabrication team um my team makes up a group of process engineers a material scientist and our job is to make the tiny wires i see long referring to them uh what we call the threads that are implanted in the brain and of course uh it's the threads are made of conductors and insulators and choosing the right material that is amenable to the brain and compared to the brain is something that our team have expertise on and and we work

Seriously on interface engineering just to make sure that our layers are actually well thought through well design um and at the end of the day when we implant this right it'll be actually functional uh for you know reading all for writing uh in the brain yeah i think it's it's gonna be important from in terms of uh of material science problems is making sure that the the threads though the electrodes can

Last for decades in the brain which is a tricky thing because it's a it's a very corrosive environment and uh you're you're in a dichotomy where you you want to read and you want to sense electrical signals and you want to generate electric electrical signals um and uh but you don't want to corrode the electrodes over time so you need to have an insulating layer that is very robust but also very very thin um it can't it has to be just

The right amount of insulation and it has to stay that amount of insulation over time so that's why i think we think probably like a silicon carbide type insulator is is probably the best uh long term from a material science standpoint but it's mature silicon copper is a tough material to work with but it's some that's probably the right choice long term would you say yeah yeah i i totally agree and it's also apart from its electrical properties um it also helps with

Adhesion between the metallics and the polymer substrate another thing that we're also looking at is since we're actually reducing the electrode dimensions the electrocite the actual site that actually speaks to the neuron also have what we call high resistance onto the signal so we actually look into like material engineering that will reduce the impedance interface so that we can actually have a very small electrical side but still be able to speak clearly to the neuron and when you guys

Say thin how thin yeah how thin so one strand of your hair is about 100 microns in diameter we can think about dividing that into 20. so you know our one of the thickness that we recognize about five microns and we have this possibility to go even thinner uh in the nearest future yeah uh yeah we think we can probably go sub micron in in thickness uh but obviously as the thinner the thinner you make the wire the harder it is to sense the signal and

To do stimulation uh because there's less cross-sectional area for the current to traverse um and uh yeah in terms of upgrades that's part of why i wanted to show the the explanted uh plague uh is to show that you can actually take the uh the device out um and uh there's no observable behavior change the the pig is as happy as before and healthy and i think this is going to be important for upgrades because obviously if you get an early

Device then um by the time let's say you get version one uh probably by the time we have version three or four um you wanna you wanna upgrade um you wouldn't want version one of a phone and you know ten years later everyone's got version three or four so uh it's gonna be important to be able to remove the device and upgrade it over time so um so over time the your the neurolink would do even more than it did before awesome so here's a question about the device

We have been talking a lot about read speeds and write or we haven't talked about read or write speeds dj what are the read and write speeds of the device if you think of it like a computer so when you say speed what do you mean like how quickly can you read information from the brain and how quickly can you write information in the brain okay so let's see so one of the things to highlight is that we what dj what do you work on yes my name

Is dj's heart i'm leading implant electronics development like chip design and a chip designer look at here so the prototype that we were showing it has 1024 channels all of those channels are capable of recording and also stimulating and in terms of recording as paul mentioned we do have on-chip algorithms to do a level of compression and extracting the signals of interest in this case spikes neural spikes and those things are actually happening

At a much faster speed than your brain even is processing those information well do you want to say like things like time resolution like uh you know within how many milliseconds can you detect a spike and what's the you know just some technical data so um in terms of the signals that we're collecting um you know we're digitizing them at 20 kilohertz uh generally the signals of interest are anywhere between about a millisecond uh in in width and so we

Sort of sample it at 20 times that speed and we have analog to digital converters that um divide that into 1024 levels so 10 bit resolution and um the spike detection is done in less than 900 nanoseconds which is really really fast time and it's only sort of determined by the speed of the clock and for making sure that our implant is low power we're running them actually at a very slow speed um

And then for stimulation you know we can actually create any arbitrary waveforms with about seven microseconds of resolution so basically whatever you want to draw we can stimulate and generate those pulses through any combination of our electrodes and this is just version 0.9 or you know aspirationally version one as we go to version two three four these things will expand i think ultimately by orders of magnitude many orders of magnitude

Great uh everyday tesla asks how big is the neuralink team and how much do you expect it to grow in the near future uh there were about a hundred people right now um i think over time there might be ten thousand or more people at neurolink um so i think yeah the orders of magnitude yeah exactly a couple of magnitude those are my favorite phrases um yeah just you know couplers magnitude there we go so um yeah probably the

Number of electrodes will grow with number of people at the company hopefully that's a super linear relationship yeah well we might need a million people at the company then yes yeah even more yeah yeah ideally like yeah yeah super linear are hiring quotas are determined by our channel accounts yeah i think it's ten to one ratio or something yeah cool so uh twitter asks how does the implant system fare against various disturbances from the outside like electrical

Magnetic wi-fi radio yeah so the current version of implant that we have is using bluetooth low energy radio so similar to any bluetooth devices that are out there you know they they are able to coexist with other devices that are using and sharing our same spectrum in 2.4 gigahertz obviously as you imagine you know when you go to concerts or there's a lot of people um the signal quality does degrade because it is a pretty congested spectrum so we are actually working on

Some new versions of the radio that are operating at different frequencies to be able to also send out a lot more data and have it be scalable to you know millions of electrodes um and then also in terms of sort of electromagnetic compatibility and interferences um obviously it's very important for us to coexist with other systems and just disturbances out there so um there are also well-documented guidelines from fda that we'll be

Following and doing a lot of testing for fantastic uh we're going to take an audience question uh fred take it away so we all want to play starcraft using neuralink but what are some likely first applications well i don't know if we all want to play starcraft um there are other games there are other games to play exactly but also starcraft yeah so our first clinical trial is aimed at people with paraplegia or tetraplegia

So cervical spinal cord injury we're going to enroll we're planning to enroll a small number of patients uh to make sure the device is safe and that it works in that case uh yeah so actually just to elaborate on that um if somebody is like a severe spinal cord injury uh you know to agree that they even they have um very limited control even over their facial muscles uh then uh but with with this implant you can actually

Think just just by thinking you can output words and you can you can type and you can control a computer control a phone and uh which is pretty pretty wild and i think something that's very exciting as a long-term application is if you can if you can sense what somebody's trying to do with their limbs what they want to do with their limbs then you can actually do a second implant that's at the base of the spine or wherever just after wherever the spinal injury

Occurred and you can you can create a neural shunt so we i i think long term i'm confident that long term it will be possible to restore somebody's full body motion so if somebody even has a severed spine they will be able to walk again they will be able to use their hands and like when you have a several spinal cord you essentially have a broken broken wires um and so if you can just jump over those wires and transmit the single signals over those wires uh you can give

Somebody the ability to walk again naturally so dj you talked about outside interference can anyone talk about the inside interference so how to protect the implant from the body sure i can talk about that my name is robin i'm a mechanical engineer and i lead the implant mechanical packaging and assembly team so actually making the devices and designing the seal

So yeah the body's not a friendly place to be so what we do is basically create an accelerated test chamber that can mimic the conditions that the devices will see in the body and basically test the devices at as fast as accelerated rate as we can um this at this time we're limited temperature wise by uh some of the electronics components but um basically we can sub test subsystems to mimic the environment in the body and by that we've brought some devices in

The tester right now to almost a year and um all the implanted ones prior to these implants we had tested the same architecture in the tester to validate it and um yeah so there's obviously chemical things attacking the implant there's there's pressure there's mechanical shock and vibration so all these things are part of it and yeah i think one of the things that really helps is having everything in-sourced in-house so we

Have the capability to deposit thin layers of metal we have the capability to weld glass and machine micron scale with lasers and yeah so basically we have all the tools in-house to be able to design any sort of ceiling enclosure packaging that we need to do thank you robin uh another question from twitter will you be able to save and replay memories in the future uh yes i think uh in the future you will be able to save and

Replay memories i mean this is obviously sounding increasingly like a black mirror episode but uh well i guess they're pretty good predicting but yeah essentially if you have a whole rain interface everything that's encoded in memory you could you could upload you could basically store your memories as a backup and restore the memories then ultimately you could potentially download them into a new body or into a robot body

The future is going to be weird cool so i can't help but notice that the pigs back there are pretty well behaved and pretty darn cute can anyone talk about me i'm looking at autumn over here first can you tell everyone who you are and uh what you do here and can you describe like how are they so well behaved and so smart well i'm autumn and i lead our animal care program and our philosophy here is to set up a system where the animals are able to

Volunteer to make choices to participate in our projects as you see sometimes they choose not to participate and that's okay that's we want to make sure that our animals are happy and healthy so all of the behavioral research that we do is led by positive reinforcement and again that allows for them to choose to volunteer or not sam's also on our animal care team sam do you have anything to add to that hi i'm sam um one of the veterinarians

Here work closely with autumn taking care of the animals and yeah it's just emphasizing what robin said the whole animal care program here in fact the whole company here is very dedicated to promoting the care of these animals we you know everybody is involved everybody's very interested in making sure that they're taken care of and yeah the program from top to bottom is designed to make sure that they can express their species specific behaviors express you know

Choose to do things we don't force things upon them as much as possible and yeah that's why you see the pigs happily rooting around the straw right now and generally being very content they do have those natural little smiles on their faces which is ever delightful uh next question is what programming language are you guys using for developing the device several yeah we use uh several different types of programming languages um so for chip

Development uh a lot of verilog for doing low-level programming at the kind of the register transfer level um as you go up higher and higher they're you know various c c plus plus python but to be honest like at the end of the day it's not you know which programming language do you know how to use it's do you know the principles behind you know coming up with just methods to enable these systems to work um so i think you know if you have

Any experience in programming and you've been building things since you're little uh you should really come join us yeah but kind of play crisis eventually it can play crisis cool crisis confirmed and then ian what about yeah ian what about the robot what kind of programming languages and tech stacks are using over there um i mean sort of just reiterating what dj said uh sort of doesn't matter um like specifically for us it's there's a real-time low-level platform c plus plus

Some java and python scripts but really those are more just like pragmatic choices to essentially optimize for getting like productive work done so it doesn't really matter what your background is or necessarily what the tools you use are it's more just can you like accomplish things really quickly awesome this next question is from this is rex they're wondering can this device be used to explain consciousness in the long term of course i can

Certainly shed some light on consciousness so this is a really interesting question i think the answer is yes and i think one of the reasons that consciousness is so hard is because like anything in physics you're looking at a mapping from x to y where x is the neuronal correlate it's the thing that's happening then physically and then y is this phenomenal state and historically we've been unable to observe the neuronal correlates very well and unless it's in u we've been unable

To observe the phenomenal state so as soon as you we're able neuroscientists are able to personally get these tools where they can see the correlates and they can have the experience i think the hard problem will vanish very quickly what i found remarkable is that the universe started out as like quarks and leptons we'll call it like you know hydrogen and uh and then after a long time well what seems like a long time to us the hydrogen became sentient it

Gradually got more complex and uh and then you know but we're basically you know hydrogen evolved um and uh and somewhere along the way that hydrogen started talking and thought it was conscious i i like the uh joke that it turns out that if you bombard earth with photons for long enough it'll emit a tesla exactly yeah that's exactly what happened just basic science guys yeah let's just teach you in school um yeah so so there's a lot of twitter

Comments coming in about a question that i think is on everyone's mind no pun intended what is the security the device look like what kind of precautions are being taken all right taken and what does the future look like for the security of the system so first and foremost uh privacy and security are top priorities at neurolink especially given the sensitivity of the data that we're collecting and one of the things that we're

Ensuring is to make sure that a lot of the interactions with the brain data is going to be encrypted and authenticated properly and i think this has been kind of a sort of recurring theme but one of the things that we have the ability to do at neurolink is that we work on every layer of the product from chip design to source code and it really gives us a unique opportunity to embed security as part of our design

From the get-go and to make sure that there are no single points of failure so as an example we can actually completely isolate sensitive modules like the ble radio by just segregating it out at the hardware level and um and and really making sure that we protect the i o to the brain away from any potential attacks and really minimizing the attack surface and you know we have in-house security expertise and we're also working with

External parties to you know do audits and perform penetration testing excellent thank you dj well actually is there is there any is there a point that anybody here wants to make that has not been made asked in a question but you think should be a question anyone yeah so hey i'm zach i work on microfabrication team i help making implants and uh one thing that i think is really cool just in general is that um you know this is a platform essentially

So we can change the design up uh in a variety of ways so if we find that a certain design or electric size or number of electrodes works better in different areas of the brain we have the capability to do that i personally think that's very cool fantastic anyone else danger of something dad yeah i think one of the things that's allowed us to make such fast progress in the last few months is the use of pigs as as a model and we started out using choosing pigs because of very

Similar anatomy of their skull to humans same thickness and similar kind of membrane dural membrane but then as time went on we realized that pigs are actually have amazing other properties you can train them to walk on treadmills you can train them to do all kinds of tricks and and also that they have this large representation of the snout in the cortex which you can very easily stimulate so uh the question would be why are we using pigs and i think we've even surprised ourselves at how how useful they are as a model in this

Respect and another important point is that it's very easy to keep pigs happy they're they they have very low uh needs and so we can build an environment in which they're uh they have amazingly good welfare yeah it's very happy about food yeah it's easy to make pigs happy basically they love food they re pigs really love food this is a true thing about pigs so um you know if if that they're yeah give them like sort of some straw

And some things to play with and some friends to hang out with and good food and they're they're they're happy as pigs um and uh and then yeah they're pigs are actually quite similar to people so that's uh you know if we're gonna figure out things for people then pigs are a good choice and uh they're also quite robust creatures like little tanks um and and then i think one of the questions was like what like is is the device

Itself robust and it's like well you know pigs they bustle around quite a lot and they bump into things and they they they headbutt each other at times and um they're pretty animated so if the device is lasting in the pig um as it lasted uh there for two months and still going strong um then that's a good sign that the device is robust for people fantastic uh one common theme that's been coming

Up a lot on these twitter questions coming in is that of availability and so matthias has a specific question on this which is any estimate of how much it will cost at launch and what price it will reduce to over time well i i think at at launch it's probably going to be it i i would say that's not really representative because at first i think it's going to be you know quite expensive but that price will very rapidly drop

And i think over time we want to get the the cost um obviously down as low as possible but i think um inclusive of the automated surgery i think we want to get the the price down to a few thousand dollars something like that um and i think that's possible i think it should be possible to get it similar to um lasik and and then the device electronics itself um i think will will not be very expensive um because it actually

Does does use a lot of the parts that are made in extremely high volume in tens of millions of units uh for uh smartphones and smartwatches and wearables in general great so here's another question about the device what does the architecture look like is it cpu arm cpu what's going on inside the device that you can talk about dj i can talk a little bit about the digital architecture it's a fully custom one of the most difficult challenges i think of

Of building an implant is the energy density so um the more electrodes you record from the more energy you're going to be consuming and so there's just there's nothing commercial out there so there's an analog front end that's able to amplify these really small signals like microvolt range so that we can actually digitize them and then take those signals and then find exactly what we're looking for and there was nothing out there that could basically do those two things and

So that's why we had to build a full custom asic and so there's really um there's nothing out you know like it out there it's um designed specifically to record signals from the brain and um anything else is is would just be wasting energy yeah so the thing that i would add to that is um so there are obviously elements that we customize from from ground up uh like our neural amplifiers and some of the algorithms that we

Developed but a lot of the other systems around it are really borrowing from parts that have already been productionized and available from the wearables industry so ble radio a lot of the low power microprocessors that are part of it a lot of small sensors so there are obviously the neural sensors that we're developing that gives us kind of a unique data set for our applications but really a lot of that is getting packaged up and you know just not really resisting

The industry that's been sort of been laid out to really create these devices with very short amount of time so here's another question about the integrity of the device more from a mechanical perspective so you're replacing a piece of bone and replacing it with uh an implant and then the person is going to take that home how does the integrity of the device fair to compared to i don't know bone or or something similar

Sure well i think matt's probably replaced a lot of pieces of skull with plastic and other materials so i don't know if you can talk about some of those um but yeah basically i mean we can we know that what the mechanical properties of bone are and we know what the stresses on the device are going to be so it's it's fairly easy to just go from first principles and design for any condition that it might see yeah i mean as you can see from the pigs as i say earlier the

The implants are are obviously very robust because um i mean pigs move around vigorously they roll around they they they bang it to the wall they bang into each other um they do like head butting um and way more than people do um so well sure um but you know like it's not like the pigs are just walking around very delicately um they're they're high energy creatures and uh i think it's it's clear that the the the implants are you know it has been gone for a few months still

Going strong uh despite a lot of vigorous activity for from the pig and it's difficult you can't just explain to the pig hey you've got an implant in your head why don't you take care of it so it's got to be robust uh against you know a lot of head impacts essentially so um you know i think maybe one of the things that that isn't super obvious is that the the implant itself is attached to the skull but the uh the electrodes um have long threads so you can have

Quite a lot of movement uh relative movement between the brain and the skull uh without putting uh attention on the electrodes that are inserted in the in the cortex so well let's see with that maybe a couple more questions or if anybody wants to make some comments and and then we'll call it a day so i just want to add to what you just said um so the thread is actually also in the brain also because of your thinness and actually very flexible and so as the peak is moving around and

Bending your head the threads actually move with the brain even the normal pulsation of the brain and that help minimize uh stress within the brain tissue also and that has a long-term impact in the functionality of the device zach how long are the threads well right now they're about 43 millimeters but uh like i said it's tunable so if we want to hit deep brain regions or some other brain area like we totally can do that just to follow up on what felix said about

The threads moving around with the brain i mean that's great for protecting the threads but it equally serves to protect the tissue around it we have a lot of different ways to to image the tissue around the threads and iterate very quickly on doing things to them that will improve the overall bio compatibility as a closing question i thought we might go down the line starting with dan and what i'm wondering is what is the number one thing on your wish list that you're really hoping that the neural link device will

Do over time that you're working towards uh so my background is in visual neuroscience and uh one of the things i think has great potential for the neurolink is to provide a visual prosthesis for people who have retinal injury or blindness through eye injury you can essentially plug a camera directly into the visual cortex and stimulate with an enormous array of thousands or maybe tens of thousands of electrodes to recreate a visual image and in time perhaps you

Can use that same technology in people who haven't lost vision to produce some kind of heads-up display um something like terminator or something like that wonderful in fact it's worth saying that like over time we could actually give somebody supervision uh like you could have like ultraviolet or infrared uh or c and radar basically name your frequency um you can just dynamically adjust the sensor

Or have sensors that feed into the visual cortex across a wide range of frequencies and actually have uh superhuman vision yeah so for me uh telepathy so i think it's um incredible amount of effort to put your thoughts into a set of words and you know it comes out completely compressed so being able to do that seamlessly without being able to compress it with all the mechanisms it would be great

Um yeah it's it's like just a i'm sorry to add further to that um in fact when i did the weight but why article um i think tom thought i said consensual telepathy um but i said conceptual telepathy i would presume it would be consensual um uh because you definitely don't want just people you know sending stuff into your brain without your consent but um a lot of our brain uh thought capacity is go goes into uh compressing our thoughts into words and then you think of like the the data

Rate of words words are a very slow very low data rate and and we're putting a tremendous amount of mental energy into compressing the concepts and thoughts in our head into words and then slowly talking speech is so very very slow uh we could actually send um the true thoughts that we can obviously have far better communication because we can convey the actual concepts the actual thoughts uncompressed to somebody else so non-linguistic

Consensual and conceptual exactly not non-linguistic consent consensual conceptual telepathy i've actually been excited from the beginning sort of about the like side benefit of these devices i sort of see them as essentially like an oscilloscope to a printed circuit board is our device to the brain where just by virtue of having this in there and uh being able to see what's actually going on you'll end up learning a ton about how the brain works

Um and so sort of augmenting people but also just using that to learn a lot more about like neurological diseases is really exciting to me absolutely so to sort of follow up on elon's thought um you know i feel and i imagine a lot of other people feel the same way that there's a lot of sort of trapped creativity in your mind you know you can for example you know close your eyes and conjure up like an incredible like dolly-esque scene but you know if i wanted to actually

Show someone that it would yeah it would take years of crap you know honing a craft to be able to paint that and so you know potentially with enough electrodes in the right places you could begin to sort of tap into those raw concepts or thought vectors and be able to um decode that and show people it could be for you know art you imagine music or even for like engineering like a three-dimensional model and like so mental artistry is a new field

I i like to think about uh ways to interface devices with biology better and so one of the things i'm looking forward to is getting this thing to be less um look less like technology and more like biology and so that it really is uh you know seamlessly interfaced with the brain stable for a very long time and then similar to that having stimulation be much more precise and multi-dimensional such that eventually the brain sort of doesn't really know if it's being

Stimulated from outside or inside and you end up just sort of completely merging wow yeah you know following up on stimulation you know one of the things our device can do is simultaneously read and write on every channel stimulate and record and that's you know both a more challenging problem than it may seem like at first but also you know incredibly exciting the sort of the vistas that it opens up i mean it's really kind of the whole game in terms of interfacing with the

Nervous system and i'm very excited to to use that yeah i'm excited just because of the scalability of the device we're doing everything in-house and all of it can scale to more channels more brain regions etc um i think yeah i'm really interested about solving things related to anxiety or depression or even like removing fear um like i'm an athlete into like rock climb without fear would be pretty maybe a little bit of fear just a little and also it'd be great if we could make

The pigs fly but i think we have an incredible opportunity to limit human suffering to a tiny fraction of what it is today in all kinds of different avenues pain being the essence of suffering we might be able to control that finally and so many other diseases so much other suffering in the world i think the neurolink device could help a lot with amazing um i think all these things are great uh functions for in your old

Neural link um i think on a on a species level basis i think it's going to be important for us to figure out how we coexist with advanced artificial intelligence and you know i think achieving some kind of ai symbiosis where you have an ai extension of yourself uh like a tertiary layer above the limbic system and cortex um and uh and having that having that symbiosis be good such that the future of the world

Is controlled by the combined will of the people of of earth i think that that's obviously going to be the future that we want presumably if it's the sum of our collective will and um and so i think it's it's going to be important from uh from an existential threat standpoint to achieve um a good ai symbiosis and that's what i think is might be the most important thing that a device like this achieves i have in many ways a very basic science

Interest which is i'm really interested in in the nature of consciousness and that's there's a lot of very silly philosophy that's been written about it over the last thousand years um but i think that it's really we've been very limited by the tools and our ability to uh interrogate and and measure the brain and as these tools get better it will pull it into the realm of physics and it's really one of the last big great mysteries in science

So for me can you imagine that a disease-free future future where you know you know what's going to happen to you before it happens so you can prevent it uh with these devices we'll be able to not just speak electrical signals where you can also pick a chemical clues uh in the brain and if if you're successful which i know we are we'll be able to kind of prevent ahead of time you know diseases and really the functions of these devices widespread so i'm looking forward to the future

I'm really excited about the opportunity to help people overcome challenges that they face through life circumstances bad luck through no fault of their own spinal cord injury brain disease some devastating things that completely change your life hopefully we can help them get some function back i know and love many humans with autism spectrum disorder so i'm really interested to see how the neurolink might be able to support them if they chose to do that

Yeah so i mean everyone else along the line has had you know amazing ideas and suggestions and yeah for me it's it's about you know memories and everyone loses those memories over time you know i i already can't remember what happened to me when i was younger and you know i will only get worse and so having a repository of memories that you can access whenever you want if you're feeling down you can go access some good memories

You know if you miss something or miss somebody you can go and access those memories and i i think that would just be such a life-changing experience to be able to just tap into that that was such a beautiful and diverse array of answers there yeah all right well uh thanks for tuning in and um as i said uh please consider working at uh neurolink and helping us solve these problems there's a tremendous amount of work to be done to go from here

To a device that is available widely available and affordable and reliable so please consider joining us and supporting us in our mission uh thank you very much you

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