what's neuralink?

what's neuralink?

Recently, Elon Musk, announced on X:
‘The first human received an implant from Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well. Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.’

He continued: ‘The first Neuralink product is called Telepathy… Enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking. Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.’

Woah, right? He did what now? How did we get here? What's this mean and what happens next? Let's take a look.


There have been remarkable advancements in Artificial Intelligence or AI in the past few years. It's clear that this technology is reshaping our world. Last year AI became significantly more accessible, not just to tech experts but to anyone with a creative mind, problem-solving skills, and a smartphone.

And now this year is poised to be a milestone in AI development. Bill Gates predicts a 'massive technology boom' in AI, especially in high-income countries like the United States, where its widespread use is just around the corner. It's against this backdrop that we come to Elon Musk's vision for empowering humans with these AI advancements.

From it's start, Neuralink has been focused on developing implantable brain–machine interfaces to merge human cognition with artificial intelligence and provide therapeutic solutions for people with neurological disorders. A laudable goal to be sure - and like most of Musk's ventures, wildly sci-fi sounding.

Neuralink belongs to a new category of devices called Brain Machine Interfaces (BMI). What's that you ask? Well, you picked the perfect post to read. This device interacts with individual neurons both reading and modifying the neuronal pulses. Basically, it allows a machine to chat with your brain's neurons. And it doesn't just listen in on the neurons conversation, but also can throw in its two cents, altering the signals as needed. The potential here is absolutely mind-blowing.

Here's the official Neuralink YouTube video (from Nov 2023) if you want to learn more:

In May of 2023 Neuralink received FDA approval to begin human trials and in September they announced that the initial human candidates had been selected.

The Present

Which brings us to today. With this announcement, Musk is claiming initial success. While the details are very light at this point (Neuralink did not release any official statement nor respond to dozens of journalists' requests), this is significant. We've gone from a theoretical to reality.

That doesn't mean we'll all be lining up to get implants this year (or uh, at least I won't be). And the reason is that going from an initial clinical trial to real world application is a lengthy process.

AI Researcher Dr. Alan Thompson pointed out that the official Neuralink study brochure (PDF) notes that ‘The study will take approximately 6 years to complete… The long-term follow-up begins immediately after completion of the Primary Study and takes place over 5 years…’

As he says in the article, "This would possibly take us out to 2035"!

But let's say that all speeds up, we can leap through some of the regulations, the trials are successful and we can in-fact link a human brain to a machine. What are the possibilities?

Well, there's a lot. Let's look at three different possibilities.

What's next

Healthcare: Neuralink could help patients with brain injuries or degenerative diseases recover lost functions or communication abilities. Musk has stated that recovering lost communication abilities is likely to be one of their first achievements.

Furthermore, the field of prosthetics is expected to be revolutionized, with advanced prosthetics controlled directly by the brain, significantly improving functionality for amputees and those with motor impairments. This technology also holds the potential to restore autonomy for individuals with severe disabilities, enabling control of computers and mobile devices through thought alone.

Finally, this technology will enhance the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy. It will offer healthcare professionals unprecedented insights into brain activity, aiding in early detection and accurate diagnosis.

Communication Advancements: In the near future, Neuralink could unlock new forms of interaction for individuals with disabilities such as locked-in syndrome, translating neural activity into speech or text. Looking further ahead (and into the surreal), it might enable more direct and efficient human-to-human communication, potentially overcoming traditional language barriers.

Technological Innovations: To bring it back to our original context, Neuralink aims to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence. Yeah. Read that again! This goal could lead to enhanced cognitive capabilities and a deeper integration of human consciousness with digital systems. The technology also promises to accelerate brain research, contributing to a better understanding of cognitive processes and consciousness.

Additionally, as a pioneering brain-computer interface, Neuralink is shaping the medical device industry by integrating artificial intelligence and offering new ways to monitor and interact with neurological functions.

Taken altogether, Neuralink represents a significant leap in our capability to use machines for enhancing human abilities. Hang onto your hats, the next few years are likely to be pretty wild regardless.