I was wondering what Neuralink is good for — it must be for treating some serious medical condition, since it involves serious surgery. But no! It’s just techdude fantasies.
Neuralink’s BCI will require patients to undergo invasive brain surgery. Its system centers around the Link, a small circular implant that processes and translates neural signals. The Link is connected to a series of thin, flexible threads inserted directly into the brain tissue where they detect neural signals.
Patients with Neuralink devices will learn to control it using the Neuralink app. Patients will then be able to control external mice and keyboards through a Bluetooth connection, according to the company’s website.
An app. Bluetooth. Controlling computer mice.
It absolutely did not help that I am currently using a computer mouse, a cheap wired optical mouse, that has an intermittent fault. Every once in a while, but not often enough to motivate me to get a replacement, the LED cuts out and the buttons stop responding. The fix is to shake the cable or unplug and re-insert the USB cable. It’s a bit annoying, I really should just get a new mouse, they’re only about $7.
But now imagine that your Neuralink device has a less than perfect connection: scar tissue builds up, an electrode gets jostled out of position. Every once in a while, the app drops the Bluetooth connection. The artificial limb you’re controlling becomes unresponsive, or even worse, you miss a kill shot in Call of Duty (worse, because I’ve seen how gamers can explode in fury at the most trivial stuff). There’s no easy cable-jiggling you can do, you’re going in for major brain surgery.
Or more likely, you’ll make do as I am with my mouse…you let it slide, 99% function is good enough. The only thing is, your brain doesn’t like wires stuck in it — there will be a gradual accumulation of scar tissue and localized damage, the performance of the device will inevitably incrementally deteriorate, and Neuralink doesn’t have a good replacement strategy.
“Right to repair” acquires a new urgency when it’s a gadget imbedded in your brain. Musk doesn’t seem the type to allow outsourcing of his profitable toy, and is probably anticipating making lots of money from obsolescence.