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Robotic Surgeons and Neuralink’s Plan for Brain-Machine Interfaces

At the current dimension of our existence, we can all agree that Elon Musk is our closest alias to the robots. He continues to make outstanding robotic tech progress in our human-centric world. His company, Neuralink, which is not fully transparent, is famed in creating the brain-machine interfaces. The underlying objective of the company is to make the lives of the paralyzed humans much easier through medical device implants that will assist in their locomotion when there is a need for them to use computers and cellphones. All these achievable prospects are just eyesight away if we fully embrace a helping robotic hand.

To achieve this groundbreaking technological advancement, Neuralink needs first to implement flexible ‘threads’ to complete the brain-machine interface. Such a material has a lowered damage-ratio when exposed to a human brain in comparison to other alternatives. Moreover, these threads make the viability of a high-volume data transfer a reality. It is a fact which the ‘Elon Must and Neuralink’ White Paper approves. Its abstract notes reveal a total of 96 threads that could benefit from an apparent distribution of 3,072 electrodes/array. With a width of 4 to 6 μm, the thinness of a single thread is impressively smaller than the width of a human hair. Neuralink does not pause at the development of these groundbreaking threads as it also extends its kindness in birthing a machine for responsible for their automatic embedding.

Musk’s presentation on Neuralink’s research denoted its hype as a persuasive measure to capture the attention of potential candidates that will later become recruits for this project. Thus he portrays the message of a technologically induced team-effort sport with an undying potential if the human brains decide to join their neuro links and create a bigger brain network.

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The current medical practice drills holes on the human skull to access the human brain. Neuralink scientists, however, hope to substitute the methodology with the use of a laser beam. A New York Time’s Interview places this methodology to be already in practice today with the Stanford University neuroscientists leading the experimentation.

The Q&A session that followed Musk’s Neuralink’s public presentation regarding its research provided a revelation that acted as an additive to an already sweetened broth. The Neuralink experiment successfully put on record a monkey using its brainpower to manipulate a working computer.

Neuralink intends to acquire and fully manage the actions of a damaged human body with a perfect brain but at a permitted level for going beyond that would be breaking numerous laws of sanity. Its primary objective is the attainment of Symbiosis. Thus he intends to create a bridge that connects the human intelligence on one end and the artificial intelligence on the other end. Musk depicts that the human brain is inside a locked vault, and thus accessing its contents does not always require a jailbreak as that might damaging it. The objective is to read the brain’s neural spikes signal seamlessly.

Historically, Matthew Nagle is the first of the humankind with a functional brain implant. Thus despite his spinal cord paralysis, he was still able to manipulate a computer through its cursor. This case study dates back to 2006, where Nagle successfully played pong on a computer through channeling game control from his mind despite his know paralysis. He only needed a four-day training session to familiarize himself with the basics of the game, as narrated by the New York Times. He thus became a pacesetter for the neurological empowerment of paralyzed individuals. Hence through scientific research, such individuals can use robotic arms to navigate objects to focus. Brown University is responsible for this system, BrainGate, that is transforming the lives of Nagle and others with challenges like his.

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Numerous academic research mapped through historical data led to what we embrace now as Neuralink, whose goal is to directly interact with the brain’s neural spikes without being invasive. Thus the successful functionality and adaptation of this system will retire the aging technological concepts. BrainGate, for example, can support a maximum of 128 electrode channels. It thus translates to less data transmission coming from the human brain. Another drawback is its stiff needles, which may cause brain damage under long-term usage as the human mind tends to shift within the skull periodically. Thus the flexibility of Neuralink’s thin polymers solves this problem.

The flexibility of Neuralink’s technological approach, however, makes it a challenge to implant it on a patient through human doctors. The company, however, gave life to a neurosurgical robot to counter this problem. With the robot working at an automated frequency of 6 threads/minute, its functional design mimics the merge between the precision of a sewing machine and the attention to detail nature of a microscope. Such precision and attention scheme result in a minimal inflammatory response during surgery due to unharmed blood vessels.

However, a challenge is still viable for Elon Musk. It is to conquer the bandwidth issue resulting from the brain’s attempt, and the AI needs to make communication. This concept relates to how flawlessly one can absorb information but face difficulties relaying feedback of that same information through our mouths or hands. Thus this response gap between consuming information and transmitting feedback is what this neurological system seeks to conquer.

The Neuralink, moreover, has a fully matured custom chip whose current active capability is data transmission from a USB type C wired connection. However, the ultimate objective is innovating a system that operates wirelessly. The achievement of this wireless objective will require N1 sensors whose design supports its embodiment inside the human body to facilitate wireless data transmission. The neurons read, however, may become fewer. The success of this wireless data transmission objective will require four sensors. The somatosensory brain area will need one sensor while the motor areas of the brain will benefit from the remaining four sensors. Installed behind one of the human ears will be a mountable external device to initiate a wireless connection. The external device will rely on a chargeable battery to operate, and its control interface will be at the hands of an iPhone application.

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Using rats for these experiments is currently in play to stabilize the system’s platform. We are allowed to feel for the rats but think of the impact of such success, a robotic surgery implant, and a wireless brain connection with high bandwidth. A record number of neuron activities will be evident. With such anticipated precision, the brain-machine interfaces are the steps necessary for a better brain connection.

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