Month: August 2020
Sleep in the Bed of Your Truck? Try the Hest Dually Mattress
August 31, 2020 | By Sean McCoyShare now:
The Hest Dually is an incredibly comfortable mattress that sleeps two but folds in half for travel. But its remarkable comfort and durability are matched only by its hefty price tag.
Rooftop tents get all the glory these days, but it’s still hard to beat the practicality of throwing a mattress in the back of your pickup. Especially with a topper, it’s camping at its easiest. And if you choose a great mattress, it’s also incredibly cozy.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been demoing the Hest Dually, and I’m feeling spoiled. After a night in the topper sleeping on this plush memory foam mattress, it’s really tough to go back to a sleeping pad on the ground!
In short: Hest designed the Dually exactly for those who sleep in their truck beds. It folds in half, allowing lots of space for storage beside it in the truck bed. It also has a protective, water-resistant surface that works even while folded. But at $500, it costs as much as many people’s home mattress.
Hest Dually Review
It’s hard to overstate how comfortable the Dually is. Having slept in it for several nights this summer, I’d stay it rivals the Purple mattress I have in my bedroom. But unlike my bedroom mattress, the Dually is 100% at home in the outdoors.
To achieve great comfort at just 3.9 inches thick (open), the mattress uses two layers of high-performance polyfoam. It both cradles your body for sleeping and provides insulation against the cold truck bed below you. My wife and I have enjoyed wonderful nights of sleep on this mattress.
Folded open, the sleeping surface of the mattress has a DWR-treated nylon stretch twill that feels very comfortable against the skin. I’ve mostly used sleeping bags on the mattress but have considered adding sheets and blankets to my truck sleeping setup.
It fits perfectly in the back of my F-150’s 6-foot bed with a little room to spare. However, be sure to measure the space you plan to use it before buying! See the sizes in the specs below.
The bottom and sides of the mattress use heathered nylon woven with a polyurethane backing for durability. It’s a tougher fabric that can handle jostling around in the back of a pickup truck with other gear. I’ve packed lots of gear on top of the mattress when folded, and it shows no wear.
And that brings us to the very cool aspect of this mattress folding up for transport. I’ve left it in the back of my truck all summer, even though I also use the truck regularly to haul around stuff for home improvement projects and whatnot.
And it leaves plenty of space for a boxed-up lawnmower, for example. To fold it, just flip one side onto the other and snap shut a couple of clips.
Other cool features include phone pockets on each side and handles for easy carrying. Because of the design, there’s also no noticeable seam where the mattress folds.
Overall, the Hest Dually is a remarkably comfortable mattress with a lot of design elements that make it ideal for sleeping in a vehicle. For those who spend a lot of nights in the bed of a pickup or back of a van, it should be high on the list of possible sleeping options — if you can stomach the $500 price tag.
Hest Dually Specs
- Color: Blue
- Open dimensions (long): 78” x 50” x 3.9”
- Packed dimensions (long): 78” x 25” x 7.8”
- Open dimensions (wide): 74” x 60” x 3.9”
- Packed dimensions (wide): 74” x 30” x 7.8”
- Weight: 32 lbs.
How Impossible Foods turned a plant-based burger into a $4 billion brand
An Impossible burger tastes and bleeds like meat, but it’s made out of plants. The burger wasn’t created for vegans or vegetarians. Impossible Foods, valued at about $4 billion, is trying to win over all the meat-lovers of the world. The company is looking to replace the estimated $1.4 trillion global animal meat industry due to its contributions to climate change. Here’s how the company turned a plant-based burger into a foodie sensation and the challenges it faces trying to win over the most loyal of meat-eaters.13:53Mon, Aug 31 20209:53 AM EDTRELATEDHow Impossible Foods turned a plant-based burger into a $4 billion brandWhy Americans pay up to $1,400 for Spanish hamMargins on vegan food will increase as more competition enters market, analyst saysI tried the world’s most expensive coffee — it costs $100 for just one cupThis Bill Gates-backed start-up is battling world hunger with avocados that last twice as longHow Oatly took over AmericaAyesha Curry loves to splurge at Whole Foods—and Steph Curry always checks the bill
Machine Learning Peeks Into Nano-Aquariums and Records the Motions of Nanoparticles
TOPICS:Machine LearningMaterials ScienceNanotechnologyUniversity Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
By UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN AUGUST 30, 2020
In the nanoworld, tiny particles such as proteins appear to dance as they transform and assemble to perform various tasks while suspended in a liquid. Recently developed methods have made it possible to watch and record these otherwise-elusive tiny motions, and researchers now take a step forward by developing a machine learning workflow to streamline the process.
The new study, led by Qian Chen, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, builds upon her past work with liquid-phase electron microscopy and is published in the journal ACS Central Science.
Being able to see – and record – the motions of nanoparticles is essential for understanding a variety of engineering challenges. Liquid-phase electron microscopy, which allows researchers to watch nanoparticles interact inside tiny aquariumlike sample containers, is useful for research in medicine, energy and environmental sustainability and in fabrication of metamaterials, to name a few. However, it is difficult to interpret the dataset, the researchers said. The video files produced are large, filled with temporal and spatial information, and are noisy due to background signals – in other words, they require a lot of tedious image processing and analysis.
“Developing a method even to see these particles was a huge challenge,” Chen said. “Figuring out how to efficiently get the useful data pieces from a sea of outliers and noise has become the new challenge.”
To confront this problem, the team developed a machine learning workflow that is based upon an artificial neural network that mimics, in part, the learning potency of the human brain. The program builds off of an existing neural network, known as U-Net, that does not require handcrafted features or predetermined input and has yielded significant breakthroughs in identifying irregular cellular features using other types of microscopy, the study reports.
“Our new program processed information for three types of nanoscale dynamics including motion, chemical reaction and self-assembly of nanoparticles,” said lead author and graduate student Lehan Yao. “These represent the scenarios and challenges we have encountered in the analysis of liquid-phase electron microscopy videos.”
The researchers collected measurements from approximately 300,000 pairs of interacting nanoparticles, the study reports.
As found in past studies by Chen’s group, contrast continues to be a problem while imaging certain types of nanoparticles. In their experimental work, the team used particles made out of gold, which is easy to see with an electron microscope. However, particles with lower elemental or molecular weights like proteins, plastic polymers and other organic nanoparticles show very low contrast when viewed under an electron beam, Chen said.
“Biological applications, like the search for vaccines and drugs, underscore the urgency in our push to have our technique available for imaging biomolecules,“ she said. “There are critical nanoscale interactions between viruses and our immune systems, between the drugs and the immune system, and between the drug and the virus itself that must be understood. The fact that our new processing method allows us to extract information from samples as demonstrated here gets us ready for the next step of application and model systems.”
The team has made the source code for the machine learning program used in this study publicly available through the supplemental information section of the new paper. “We feel that making the code available to other researchers can benefit the whole nanomaterials research community,” Chen said.
Reference: “Machine Learning to Reveal Nanoparticle Dynamics from Liquid-Phase TEM Videos” by Lehan Yao, Zihao Ou, Binbin Luo, Cong Xu and Qian Chen, 6 July 2020, ACS Central Science.
Chen also is affiliated with chemistry, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Materials Research Laboratory at the U. of I.
The National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported this study.
Elon Musk trots out pig with brain implant, says device could let humans communicate by telepathy
In a video demonstration the billionaire entrepreneur showed off a pig called GertrudeAuthor of the article:The TelegraphNick Allen in Washington and Olivia Rudgard in San FranciscoPublishing date:Aug 31, 2020 • Last Updated 2 hours ago • 2 minute read
Elon Musk has unveiled a brain implant which he claims is vital to the future of humanity and could allow people to communicate by telepathy, download memories into robots, and develop X-ray “super vision”.
In a video demonstration the billionaire entrepreneur showed off a pig called Gertrude which had one of the coin-sized devices inserted into its head two months ago.
Elon Musk trots out pig with brain implant, says device could let humans communicate by telepathy
Experts and academics remained cautious about Musk’s claims, while critics dubbed him “Muskenstein” and called the pig “Cypork”.
The potentially revolutionary chip is being developed by Musk’s Neuralink company, which has $158 million (pounds 118 million) in funding and employs about 100 people.
Musk has been an outspoken doomsayer about the threat artificial intelligence might one day pose to the human race. He believes people could one day be turned into “house cats” by out-of-control computers, and the human brain must be merged with technology to survive. At his brain implant demonstration Musk said: “The future is going to be weird.
“It’s going to be important from an existential threat perspective to achieve a good AI symbiosis.
“In the future you will be able to save and replay memories. You could potentially download them into a new body or into a robot body. Over time we could give somebody super vision.”
He said the Neuralink was “going to blow your minds” and was like a “Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires”.
The founder of Tesla and SpaceX also admitted that his claims were “increasingly sounding like a Black Mirror episode”, referring to the science fiction TV series.
A trio of pigs in pens – Gertrude and two animals without brain implants – took part in his demonstration, which was to show that the device had been safely implanted and that signals from it could be read. Mr Musk said: “As you can see, a healthy and happy pig.”
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He said the chip could have numerous medical applications in the future, including returning mobility to the paralyzed and sight to the blind.
It could also help to cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries and memory loss, hearing problems, depression and insomnia.
The Neuralink device was inserted into Gertrude by a surgical robot.
A piece of the pig’s skull was replaced with the disc, and hundreds of wispy electrodes were inserted into its brain. The implant registers nerve activity and relays the information through a Bluetooth wireless signal to a device such as a mobile phone.
Mr Musk said: “It actually fits quite nicely in your skull. It could be under your hair and you wouldn’t know. I could have a Neuralink right now and you wouldn’t know… Maybe I do…”
He said Neuralink engineers were working on encryption to protect people’s data being stolen or implants hacked.
In July it received a “breakthrough device” designation from the US Food and Drug Administration, meaning it is able to start clinical trials in humans.
Matthew MacDougall, Neuralink’s head neurosurgeon, said: “Our first trial involves patients with spinal cord injury – paraplegia, tetraplegia. We plan to enrol a small number of patients. You could solve blindness, paralysis.”
He said the company wanted to get the price of a brain implant for humans down to a few thousand dollars “inclusive of the automated surgery”, making it similar to the cost of laser eye surgery.
elon musk’s neuralink unveils brain implant update and the surgical robot to insert it
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COBE industrial collaborative being might better the relationship between humans & robots
one year ago, elon musk’s startup neuralink unveiled a brain implant device that uses small threads to detect neuron activity allowing users to control computers with their minds. at the time, the technology consisted of a discrete unit connected to an implanted microchip fitted behind the ear. following a year of silence, musk has released the first update to this technology — now boasting a coin-shaped design — which includes the first look at the neuralink surgical robot, a precise machine used to insert the device, created in collaboration with wearable technology leader, woke studios.
images courtesy of woke studios unless otherwise noted
for some time, elon musk has made clear his concerns with artificial intelligence and what he believes we should do to keep up with it. ‘on a species level, it’s important to figure out how we coexist with advanced AI, achieving some AI symbiosis, such that the future of world is controlled by the combined will of the people of the earth — I think that that’s obviously gonna be the future that we want,’ he said on friday during the official neuralink event live-streamed on youtube (you can watch it below). by allowing the human brain to merge with artificial intelligence, musk himself has said we could prevent global AI takeover.
screenshot from the neuralink presentation
during the neuralink presentation, musk unveiled a pig named gertrude fitted with the computer chip in its brain, showcasing a rather small step towards the goal of curing human diseases like blindness, paralysis, deafness and even mental illness. ‘in a lot of ways, it’s kind of like a fitbit in your skull, with tiny wires,’ musk said. and while the pig touched things, attendees and online viewers were able to see how an array of dots and different noises indicated which neurons were involved inside the pig’s head — something that is not new to neuroscientist.https://www.youtube.com/embed/DVvmgjBL74w
during the livestream, musk stood beside an updated prototype of the machine that could conduct the complex and high-risk surgical procedure of implanting the microchip and neural threads into the brain. developed in collaboration with woke studios, the robot has been designed with zero room for error. ‘if the robot — which can extend to almost eight feet in height and move in five axes — were to vibrate and shift even a fraction of a millimeter, the results could be catastrophic,’ comments woke studios on the official press release.
‘while the patient may not be awake to see the machine in action, it was still important to design a non-intimidating robot that can aesthetically live alongside the iconic machines in musk’s portfolio,’ the studio continues. ‘it also needed to meet a long list of medical requirements in terms of sterility and maintenance, and provide safe and seamless utilization for its operators.’
featuring a curvy, clean car-like design, the neuralink surgical robot is divided into three parts: the ‘head’, where the human head is situated featuring the surgical needle and a plethora of cameras and sensors; the body, providing the mechanics for the control movement; and the base which provides weighted support for the entire structure and holding the technology that allows the entire system to operate. overall, the objective for the robot, despite its wildly futuristic nature, is to provide relatively autonomous procedures in a variety of settings, to allow for mass deployment.
‘the use cases for this technology are limitless, which, of course, means there is opportunity for both positive and negative outcomes on human life.’ concludes woke studios. ‘the reason our team at woke studios was enthusiastic to participate in this collaboration is simply this: we believe it is the role of the designer to realize the vision for our best possible future.’
throughout the event, musk avoided setting timelines or saying when the neuralink would be tested on humans. instead, the event aimed to create excitement and recruit new talent while building a — let’s say — fan base.
name: neuralink surgical robot
designed in collaboration with: woke studiosjuliana neira I designboomaug 31, 2020
Dopamine: The key to life
AdridajaFollowAug 30 · 8 min read
You’ve probably already heard the name of this neurotransmitter before: Dopamine. Dopamine is the most important hormone in the brain, but still, it only makes up 0.00005% of all brain cells. It’s without question the main driver of creativity, financial and sexual success. Dopamine is the starting point of every human achievement ever. It influences our decisions on a momentary basis and it makes and it gives form to a main part of what we consider our own self.
After the first paragraph, I bet the title seems a lot more believable. So now, let’s get into how dopamine influences, seemingly, almost everything in our life.
Well, maybe, some of you have heard of Dopamine as “the hormone a pleasure”. While that has some truth, it’s a very limited, and is some sense, very misleading nickname to give it. A better term for Dopamine, and again, some of you might have heard this, it’s “the hormone of more”.
And that pretty much encapsulates the whole function of Dopamine. It might seem weird that the hormone that’s only concerned with the concept of “more”, is somehow accountable for the entirety of human achievement and is considered one of the main, if not the main part of our own self. But when you see it’s effect on the bigger picture, it becomes clear why.
Let’s start with one of the most primal urges of human beings: the need to dominate. Through out history it has been clear that man has a inherent need for a good sleeping spot, and an attractive mate. That’s what we’ll be referring to when we say domination.
So how is Dopamine connected to domination? Well, through our history, the men who laid dominion over the most land and partners, usually had extremely high levels of this hormone. Now the name, “the hormone of more” might make a lot more sense.
This hormone is what drives people to always strive for more. Some of you might have experienced the feeling of reaching a level of income you’ve been dreaming of for years, and you suddenly, without even having time to appreciate what you finally earned, you just want more. You want more money, you want the better job position. That’s Dopamine kicking in.
Following that logic then, you thing since its named “the hormone of more”, it would not only be responsible for wanting a better job position, or more money, but it also has to be responsible for wanting more cake at a part, for example. For wanting another shot. So Dopamine can be the driver behind our successful career, but also, it can be the driver behind our obesity or drinking problem, or even bot at the same time.
That’s why some people are just naturally driven for their career, and they don’t have much of a choice in their brain really. Natural high levels of Dopamine will give a person tremendous motivation in their job. But also, people with drug issues and other similar vices do share the same natural high levels of Dopamine. You live by the sword and die by the sword.
Dopamine can also be responsible for mental health issues. One of these mental issues directly cause by an overflow of Dopamine is Bipolarity. Bipolarity is mental issue that as a main symptom has aggressive mood swings. A person bearing this issue can often go from an extreme state of joy and ecstasy(overflow of dopamine) to a complete and crushing depression(complete lack of dopamine).
Bipolarity then, because it’s caused by the hormone of more, it would make sense that it would make people want more. More than almost everybody around them. And this mental issue is speculated to be one of the reasons why some people migrated away from Africa thousands of years ago(Africa was the place where man originated.).
It seems that people with bipolarity back then, among other people with naturally high levels of Dopamine, were driven by this hormone which they possessed tons of, to move away from their home in search of better lands.
And if you start to move away from Africa you start to see a increase of Bipolarity cases the further you move away. Also, you start to see the specif gene that give people natural high levels of Dopamine, to be a lot more present. Again, this one too is seen to have gradual increase the further away you move from Africa.
America has the highest level of Bipolarity cases in the world, with a 4.4%. Not surprisingly either, with America being a county made of emigrants .
So people with high levels of Dopamine wanted to conquer MORE land. Or at least, wanted more recourses than their current home.
But that’s not it, Dopamine had a much wider radius of influence in our brain.
It’s amazing to think that this single hormone is even the main driver of our creativity.
Creative people have usually shown to have higher levels of Dopamine. Also, creative people have been shown to indulge in behavior that artificially increases the brains levels of Dopamine, such as intaking drugs or indulging in dangerous, thrilling activities. One of the most famous writers to take this kind of lifestyle in its brink and past it is Hunter S. Thompson.
In the other section we talked about how Dopamine causes Bipolarity. Well, a lot of the greatest creative minds to ever live had this issue. Some of them are: Frank Sinatra; Francis Ford Coppola; Charles Dickens; Florence Nightingale; Edgar Allan Poe; Frederich Nietzsche; Kanye West; Kurt Cobain; Nikola Tesla; Jimi Hendrix; Ernest Hemingway; And the list goes on. Who knows the list of people that aren’t recent to our time, and of whom we have no record of their behavior and only their art, who could have had this issue.
Now, I will show why the stereotype that creative people are “crazy” was born. Not only because of the large number of cases of bipolarity among them ,but also because of something they might possess in small doses, which, schizophrenic people might have in large ones. And that is low latent inhibition. Well what is latent inhibition to start with? Well, latent inhibition is the ability our brain has to get used to things it interacts with more than once. When you walk down a place you’ve never been before in a foreign country, you might be blown away by each second and notice the smallest of details on everything. But if you live there long enough, you will eventually get used to everything there so you can focus on other things. And that’s latent inhibition kicking in. It makes you stop focusing on things you see everyday, essentially take them for granted, and focus on other things in life.
Well, some artists might possess smaller doses of that ability, and completely mentally challenged people might posses dangerously small doses, hence: low latent inhibition.
But one can ask: how does this help someone to be a better artist? Well, in your everyday life, you might not only start to stop noticing the shiny things on the storefront under your apartment, you might also start to stop noticing the terrible things your government is doing to you on the down low. And thats where great artist kick in. A Kanye West quote encapsulates it in a great way: “My biggest power is not the ability to influence, but the ability to not be influenced.” And it has been apparent through all of history that artists were the first ones to call out government tyranny, because their brains were not weired to take things for granted so easily.
I mention all this because low latent inhibition is caused by high levels of Dopamine. But low latent inhibition can be also devastating to people lives so there is the counter-side to this ability.
Yes. Dopamine influences this too.
Again, were going to have to see how Dopamine splits people in to liberals and conservatives through the paradigm of it being “the hormone of more”.
So, it’s been seen that people with a liberal political point of view have higher levels of dopamine. And conservatives, have been shown to have lower levels of Dopamine.
Well, why? As logic would follow, liberals are interested in MORE change, and conservatives are not. Liberals want to improve MORE on what they already have, and conservatives want to CONSERVE the best of what their ancestors left them. When you put it like that, it make sense why liberal people have higher levels of Dopamine.
But as we’ve seen in the paragraphs above, Dopamine is a double edged sword. So everyone has seen what too much government control and too much government change can do. That’s why both sides of the political spectrum are equally important. Because with only highly dopaminergic people leading the country, there would be constant chaos and too much government influence. Because thats natural of dopaminergic people, to always want to extend what they have, which in this case would be power. But if we were only led by people low on Dopamine, we would be in stagnation.
So democracy has been the best system to manage to tame Dopamine while still reaping it’s benefits.
A question that might arise from reading this article might be: Is it better to have more dopamine or less? The joke here would be that it depends on how much dopamine you have. But, actually, there is no good answer, the closest we’ve come to answering this is: BALANCE. Yes, someone shouldn’t just have too much or too little of it. If you’re a highly dopaminergic person, you’re probably always living in the future, never satisfied with what you have. The hedonistic treadmill is cranked all the way up to max for you. But if you have too little you’re probably a person who gets satisfied with not enough.
If you’ve diagnosed yourself with either of these, now you know what questions to ask yourself. If you’re high in Dopamine you need to learn to enjoy the moment more, and the best ways to do that are through meditation and doing thing that take your full attention and are more physical than not. Sports is the best example, but there are more examples. Like working out or creating something wit your hands, like woodworking. And if you’re not a person high in Dopamine, you’re already pretty happy anyways, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be happier. And asking question like: “What can i get more?”; “What can I do more”, can help to really improve your life.
So as you can see, although Dopamine seems to be the most influential thing in our brain, there is something that transcends it, and we’ve know about the importance of this thing for thousands of years, and only now have we put it’s importance in empirical terms: BALANCE. The title is wrong then: Dopamine isn’t the key to life, Dopamine is the key to a extremely successful or an extremely miserable life, but the key to life really, is balance.
Watch Elon Musk show how the Neuralink brain implant works — using a pig
A pig named Gertrude was the star of the show when Elon Musk debuted a working demo of his latest technology moonshot, a new kind of implantable chip for the brain.
STORIES WORTH WATCHING (15 VIDEOS)
Elon Musk’s Neuralink is neuroscience theater
Elon Musk’s livestreamed brain implant event made promises that will be hard to keep.By Antonio RegaladoAugust 30, 2020Advertisement
Rock-climb without fear. Play a symphony in your head. See radar with superhuman vision. Discover the nature of consciousness. Cure blindness, paralysis, deafness, and mental illness. Those are just a few of the applications that Elon Musk and employees at his four-year-old neuroscience company Neuralink believe electronic brain-computer interfaces will one day bring about.
None of these advances are close at hand, and some are unlikely to ever come about. But in a “product update” streamed over YouTube on Friday, Musk, also the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, joined staffers wearing black masks to discuss the company’s work toward an affordable, reliable brain implant that Musk believes billions of consumers will clamor for in the future.
“In a lot of ways,” Musk said, “It’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull, with tiny wires.”
Although the online event was described as a product demonstration, there is as yet nothing that anyone can buy or use from Neuralink. (This is for the best, since most of the company’s medical claims remain highly speculative.) It is, however, engineering a super-dense electrode technology that is being tested on animals.
Neuralink isn’t the first to believe that brain implants could extend or restore human capabilities. Researchers began placing probes in the brains of paralyzed people in the late 1990s in order to show that signals could let them move robot arms or computer cursors. And mice with visual implants really can perceive infrared rays.
Building on that work, Neuralink says it hopes to further develop such brain-computer interfaces (or BCIs) to the point where one can be installed in a doctor’s office in under an hour. “This actually does work,” Musk said of people who have controlled computers with brain signals. “It’s just not something the average person can use effectively.”
Throughout the event, Musk deftly avoided giving timelines or committing to schedules on questions such as when Neuralink’s system might be tested in human subjects.
As yet, four years after its formation, Neuralink has provided no evidence that it can (or has even tried to) treat depression, insomnia, or a dozen other diseases that Musk mentioned in a slide. One difficulty ahead of the company is perfecting microwires that can survive the “corrosive” context of a living brain for a decade. That problem alone could take years to solve.
The primary objective of the streamed demo, instead, was to stir excitement, recruit engineers to the company (which already employs about 100 people), and build the kind of fan base that has cheered on Musk’s other ventures and has helped propel the gravity-defying stock price of electric-car maker Tesla.
Pigs in the matrix
In tweets leading up to the event, Musk had promised fans a mind-blowing demonstration of neurons firing inside a living brain—though he didn’t say of what species. Minutes into the livestream, assistants drew a black curtain to reveal three small pigs in fenced enclosures; these were the subjects of the company’s implant experiments.
The brain of one pig contained an implant, and hidden speakers briefly chimed out ringtones that Musk said were recordings of the animal’s neurons firing in real time. For those awaiting the “matrix in the matrix,” as Musk had hinted on Twitter, the cute-animal interlude was not exactly what they hoped for. To neuroscientists, it was nothing new; in their labs the buzz and crackle of electrical impulses recorded from animal brains (and some human ones) has been heard for decades.
A year ago, Neuralink presented a sewing-machine robot able to plunge a thousand ultra-fine electrodes into a rodent’s brain. These probes are what measure the electrical signals emitted by neurons; the speed and patterns of those signals are ultimately a basis for movement, thoughts, and recall of memories.
In the new livestream, Musk appeared beside an updated prototype of the sewing robot encased within a smooth, white plastic helmet. Into such surgical headgear, Musk believes, billions of consumers will one day willingly place their heads, submitting as an automated saw carves out a circle of bone and a robot threads electronics into their brains.
The futuristic casing was created by the industrial design firm Woke Studio, in Vancouver. Its lead designer, Afshin Mehin, says he strived to make something “clean, modern, but still friendly-feeling” for what would be voluntary brain surgery with inevitable risks.
To neuroscientists, the most intriguing development shown Friday may have been what Musk called “the link,” a silver-dollar-sized disk containing computer chips, which compresses and then wirelessly transmits signals recorded from the electrodes. The link is about as thick as the human skull, and Musk said it could plop neatly onto the surface of the brain through a drill hole that could then be sealed with superglue.
“I could have a Neuralink right now and you wouldn’t know it,” Musk said.
The link can be charged wirelessly via an induction coil, and Musk suggested that people in the future would plug in before they go to sleep to power up their implants. He thinks an implant also needs to be easy to install and remove, so that people can get new ones as technology improves. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with version 1.0 of a brain implant forever. Outdated neural hardware left behind in people’s bodies is a real problem already encountered by research subjects.
The implant Neuralink is testing on its pigs has 1,000 channels and is likely to read from a similar number of neurons. Musk says his goal to increase that by a factor of “100, then 1,000, then, 10,000” to read more completely from the brain.
Such exponential goals for the technology don’t necessarily address specific medical needs. Although Musk claims implants “could solve paralysis, blindness, hearing,” as often what is missing isn’t 10 times as many electrodes, but scientific knowledge about what electrochemical imbalance creates, say, depression in the first place.
Despite the long list of medical applications Musk presented, Neuralink didn’t show it’s ready to commit to any one of them. During the event, the company did not disclose plans to start a clinical trial, a surprise to those who believed that would be its next logical step.
A neurosurgeon who works with the company, Matthew MacDougall, did say the company was considering trying the implant on paralyzed people—for instance, to allow them to type on a computer, or form words. Musk went further: “I think long-term you can restore someone full body motion.”
It is unclear how serious the company is about treating disease at all. Musk continually drifted away from medicine and back to a much more futuristic “general population device,” which he called the company’s “overall” aim. He believes that people should connect directly to computers in order to keep pace with artificial intelligence.
“On a species level, it’s important to figure out how we coexist with advanced AI, achieving some AI symbiosis,” he said, “such that the future of world is controlled by the combined will of the people of the earth. That might be the most important thing that a device like this achieves.”
How brain implants would bring about such a collective world electronic mind, Musk did not say. Maybe in the next update.