Elon Musk’s Neuralink wants to hook your brain to a computer in 2020
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Elon Musk’s Neuralink wants to hook your brain to a computer in 2020

Science
[MUSIC] [MUSIC] [MUSIC] [MUSIC] [MUSIC] [MUSIC] Hello everybody. [APPLAUSE] So that that video was not a Shutterstock that was actually And YourLink So, that's actual video from the company. So if you want to get a sense for what it's like to work in YourLink, that video is indicative of the atmosphere of YourLink. It's an incredibly talented team, and you're gonna hear a lot from tonight. We're gonna actually go quite into depth on what we're doing what we're doing How we're doing it. And I'm just incredibly impressed with the caliber of talent at Neurolink. And in fact the main reason for doing this presentation is recruiting. And this will be a slow process Where we will gradually increase the issues that we solve until ultimately, we can do for a brain machine interface. Yeah, there's against some pretty weird but achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence. But I think With a high bandwidth brain machine interface. I think we can actually go along for the ride. And we can effectively have the option of merging with AI okay. This is extremely important. We have nearly 100 billion cells called neurons. Neurons calm and many complex shapes. But generally they have a dendritic Arbor cell body called a Soma, and an axon. The neurons of your brain connect to form a large network through axon den dry junctions called synapses. At these connection points, neurons communicate with each other using chemical signals called neuro transmitters Neuro transmitters are released from the end of an axon in response to a spike, called an action potential. When a cell receives the right kind of neuro transmitter input a chain reaction is triggered that causes an action potential to fire. And the neuron to in turn relay messages to its own downstream synapses. Action potentials produce an electric field that spreads from the neuron and can be detected by placing electrodes nearby, allowing recording of the information represented by a neuron. Our goal is to. Record from and stimulate spikes and neurons and do so in a way that is, or as an attitude, more than anything that has been done to date and safe and good enough that you can It's not a major operation. It's sort of equivalent to a LASIK type of thing. So this is in contrast to, [BLANK_AUDIO] The best FDA approved system, which is like a Parkinson's deep brain stimulation. Thing which we have on the order of 10 electrodes. So the system even in version one that we're gonna unveil today is capable of 1000 times more electrodes than the best system out there. And they're all read and write So this is really quite, I think, I mean for something to be a 1,000 times more than what is public approved is just quite a big difference. So there's this very tiny threads that are bout a tenth roughly of the cross section area of a human hair. So they're an extremely tiny threads In fact the threads that we have even if there's one are about the same size as a neuron so if you're gonna go and stick something in your brain you want it to not be giant you want it to be tiny and to be approximately on par with the things that are already there the neurons. You really need this to be done with a robot coz it's very tiny and it needs to be very precise. So and you don't wanna pierce the blood vessel. So when you're [UNKNOWN] so each thread that the robot looks sort of [UNKNOWN] through [UNKNOWN] and put into it each electrode specifically. Bypassing any [UNKNOWN] any kind of like a blood vessel. And making sure that if we inserted without causing trauma or minimal trauma. So just give you a sense of scale. This is how tiny the threads are. That is not even a big finger. That is a small finger. [LAUGH] So these threads are just like, like I said, way smaller than a hair, and there's a thousand of them, and this is what the robot looks like. It's sort of quite a complex device, but it's, it all comes down to a very tiny tiny point. So [UNKNOWN] just like, you see the robots, robots from the left. And then what looks like the needles for insertion next to a penny But the fact that the actual needle that gets inserted is way, way tinier, it's that little tiny thing where the arrow is pointing. That's actually the size of the needle. It's about 24 microns diameter. It's so small you can't really even see it in the picture with the penny. You can get a sense for the robot doing the electrode insertion. [BLANK_AUDIO] That's a very zoomed in view. So they're all very, very tiny, and the robot is very selectively applying them very delicately. And then this is what the chip looks like. Action potentials. So each one of those represents one electrode. So there would be up to 10,000 of these Of these lines. The operation on a per chip basis, it involves just a two millimeter incision which is dilated to eight millimeters. And then the chip is placed through that. And it goes back to being two millimeters, and you basically can glue it shut. You don't need a stitch. And then the interface to the chip is wireless. So you have no wires poking out of your head, very very important. So you, it's basically bluetooth to your phone. Well we have to watch the AppStore updates for that one. [LAUGH] To make sure we don't have a driver issue. And we hope to have this aspirationally and in a human patient before the end of next year. So this is not far. I'm Max Hodak. I'm the president of Neuralink. So I've been wanting to build a neural interface has really been like a central goal of my life basically, as long as I can remember. This is Think like we talked about AI being potentially the last invention that we have. I think that a high bandwidth BMI might be like really the first invention in many ways of like the next chapter of us. It's just really like as Ilan alluded to earlier, everything about your experience, your thoughts, your memories, it's all in your brain and represented in the firing statistics of action potentials. We knew as Elon mentioned, whatever we built, we wanted it to be completely wireless. It had to be something that would last for a long period of time, not something that you'd have to take out at two, three, or four years in. This is a photo of some of the prototypes that we've gone to over that time, so we started on the far left, that's the entirely passive for that has 64 electrodes on it. And connects to connectors that go to big external amplifiers. And then we added integrated electronics with our first custom chip that's also 64 channels. And then there's a big leap to the device that Ilan showed a photo of earlier that has 3072 electrodes in a fully implantable package with just a USB port coming out. And then we took a step back and channel count because we have to optimize safety, longevity and bandwidth altogether. And so in order to optimize some of these other things, we move to easier to manufacturers as well as 1536 channels in a USBC port. And those last two are the focus of the paper that we released today. And they taught us a lot about the architecture that we think was the basis for our first human product that we're calling and one and the central component of that is the one sensor. This is, it's a little hermetic package. It's about it's when it's fully assembled. This is missing an outer mold. Fits into an eight millimeter diameter, four millimeter tall cylinder. Exploding it, opening it up a little bit, you can see there's there's a thin film which has the threads that Elon talked about which is the Wisp going off to the side. There's a hermetic substrate, and then that gets welded later to a package that goes over top. And that's mated to our custom electronics. And you really can't manipulate these with your hands. That part of the top, is just a backing material that's surgical packaging there, they're peeled off. The threads are peeled off that one at a time by the robot, to place into the brain. And the first impetus for this is just, you have to place these threads. You can't manipulate these threads. You need a robot and then that turned out to that grew into Understanding where the blood vessels are and emerging into the tissue and the surface of the brain moves because you're breathing and you have a heartbeat and there's lots of complexity of dealing with this incredibly high entropy substrate. And so the end one implant, we can place as Eli mentioned many of these possibly up to 10 in one hemisphere, for our first patients we're looking at for for sensors. Three in motor areas and one in a somatic sensory area. And that connects wirelessly through the skin to a wearable device that we call the link which contains a Bluetooth radio and a battery. It will be controlled through an iPhone app. You won't have to go to a doctor's office and have them have an exotic programmer to configure it. And so for the first product, we're really focusing on three distinct types of control. The first is giving patients the ability to control their mobile device. Because we've heard over and over from patient groups that if you have to have a caretaker around to push buttons for you, what's the point? You might as well have them do the thing. You have to get self-sufficient using the devices on your own. But we're working as hard as we can towards our first-in-human clinical study next year. We developed this robot that can rapidly and precisely insert hundreds of individual threads, representing thousands of distinct electrodes into the cortex in less than an hour. This tool allows a surgeon to aim between the blood vessels that'll cover the surface of the brain with microscane precision. Here the robot is selecting individual electro-threads and placing them into the brain in a pre-planned location with remarkable accuracy and repeatability. When you think of traditional neurosurgery you probably think of something Very [UNKNOWN] traditional surgery on the brain isn't something that patients ever look forward to or are excited about. Except in a must die circumstances. Usually a clamp is attached to the skull yo keep it rigidly immobilized on the operation table. We often shave all or most of the patients hair. Patients can end up with large, visible scars. And early we want to create an entirely different patient experience, something more like LASIK. We even want this to be possible under conscious sedation. That means you can get rid of the complexity and the risk of general anesthesia aswell many of the unnpresent side effects. Nausea sore throat from a breathing tube. But our aim is to simplify the procedure down to the injection of local anaesthetic, a very small opening on the skin, a painless opening on the skull below Quick and precise placement of threads into the cortex. And then we fill that hole in the skull with the sensor, allowing the scalp to be closed up over it. Currently, there are no research or commercial devices that meet all of our requirements, so we built one out of microfibricated [UNKNOWN]. And an average strand of hair is about 100 microns. Yet in the small footprint were able to fit our electrodes, our wires and installation for each of those wires. This design is called linear edge. It's one of over 20 designs that we've made for RND work. We progressively been increasing the number of electrodes per thread without significantly increasing the width of each of these threads at the base. Next, we assemble the electronics and then also attach a wired lead using a laser welding process. These two steps have required A lot of internal development as well. The result is a sensor that's ready for final assembly and implant into the body. Since the start of Neuralink, we've gone through three major revisions to the analog pixel, progressively improving both the size and power While maintaining performance, and our latest pixel on the right is at least five times smaller than the known state of the art of similar architecture with one pixel dedicated per electrode as published in the academic literature. All of these functionalities that I outlined are integrated into a single Four by five millimeter silicon dice. This is in fact traces if a bunch of electrodes that came off of one of our devices, a bunch of electrodes were single thread. And each trace shows you the voltage waveform in time as it's coming off of one of those threads. We have algorithms that can detect these spikes in real time as they're happening. And that allows us to collect data that looks something like this. This is what we call a spike raster. So, each row there represents one channel of recording and time goes from left to right. And each of those little tick marks is the time of a single spike, an action potential. Now if you look at that, you might think that looks pretty messy and it's not clear what's going on. But I'm gonna do a little trick, I'm gonna take those neurons and I'm gonna rearrange them so that they're in the order of the tuning that they have. Look just as I told you about those two neurons. And if you do that, look what happens. Now suddenly structure emerges. And I think you'll agree looking at that, that there's information in that stack of neurons that tells you about the movement. And that's exactly we want to do. We want to do that kind of magic and an automated way to read out and to read out the movement. The way we do that is by building something that we call decoding algorithms. These are mathematical algorithms that we tuned based on data like these To be able to take in just those [UNKNOWN] of spiking activity and output the movement that the person wants to make. For this little fake data, I built a very, very simple decoder and sure enough, it's able to capture the intended movement. This is what we wanna do on a bigger scale. But even if you're not actually making the movement, even if you're just thinking about the movement. Or, even if you're watching someone else make movement. The cells in the motor cortex respond in a similar way. With that we think the people would be able to get naturalistic control over their computers. Not just a mouse but also a keyboard, game controllers and potentially other devices. That's what we're trying to do. So potentially with a device like this you could restore speech to a paralyzed person who is no longer able to talk. But there is no reason in principle which allow all motor cortex. And now that would give us access to any movement that a person think about, any movement at all. A person could imagine running or dancing or even kung fu an we would be able to decode that signal. What Neurolink wants to do is, to give people the ability to tap in to those representations. To get better access to that information. Both to repair broken brain circuits and also to ultimately give us better access to better connections to the world, to each other, and to ourselves. [APPLAUSE].

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