|Headquarters||Pioneer Building, San Francisco, California, U.S. (as of 2020)|
Number of employees
|Around 100 (08/2020)|
Coordinates: Neuralink Corporation is an American neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk and others, developing implantable brain–machine interfaces (BMIs). The company's headquarters are in San Francisco; it was started in 2016 and was first publicly reported in March 2017.
According to Bloomberg, since its founding, the company has hired several high-profile neuroscientists from various universities. By July 2019, it had received $158 million in funding (of which $100 million was from Musk) and was employing a staff of 90 employees. At that time, Neuralink announced that it was working on a "sewing machine-like" device capable of implanting very thin (4 to 6 μm in width) threads into the brain, and demonstrated a system that read information from a lab rat via 1,500 electrodes, anticipating to start experiments with humans in 2020.
Neuralink was founded in 2016 by Elon Musk, Ben Rapoport, Dongjin Seo, Max Hodak, Paul Merolla, Philip Sabes, Tim Gardner, Tim Hanson, and Vanessa Tolosa.
In April 2017, the blog Wait But Why reported that the company was aiming to make devices to treat serious brain diseases in the short-term, with the eventual goal of human enhancement, sometimes called transhumanism. Musk said his interest in the idea partly stemmed from the science fiction concept of "neural lace" in the fictional universe in The Culture, a series of 10 novels by Iain M. Banks.
Musk defined the neural lace as a "digital layer above the cortex" that would not necessarily imply extensive surgical insertion but ideally an implant through a vein or artery. Musk explained that the long-term goal is to achieve "symbiosis with artificial intelligence", which he perceives as an existential threat to humanity if it goes unchecked. As of 2017[update], some neuroprosthetics can interpret brain signals and allow disabled people to control their prosthetic arms and legs. Musk spoke of aiming to link that technology with implants that, instead of actuating movement, can interface at broadband speed[failed verification] with other types of external software and gadgets.
As of 2020, Neuralink is headquartered in San Francisco's Mission District, sharing the former Pioneer Trunk Factory building wih OpenAI, another company co-founded by Musk. Musk was the majority owner of Neuralink as of September 2018, but did not hold an executive position. Jared Birchall was listed as CEO, CFO and president of Neuralink in 2018; his role has been described as formal. An August 2020 tweet confirmed past reports that Musk is the current CEO. The trademark "Neuralink" was purchased from its previous owners in January 2017.
By August 2020, only three of the eight founding scientists remained at the company, according to an article by Stat News which reported that Neuralink had seen "years of internal conflict in which rushed timelines have clashed with the slow and incremental pace of science."
By 2018, the company had "remained highly secretive about its work since its launch", although public records showed that it had sought to open an animal testing facility in San Francisco; it subsequently started to carry out research at the University of California, Davis.
In July 2019, Neuralink held a live-streamed presentation at the California Academy of Sciences. The proposed future technology involves a module placed outside the head that wirelessly receives information from thin flexible electrode threads embedded in the brain. The system could include "as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads" each 4 to 6 μm in width. As Musk described it, "it's like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires." The threads would be embedded by a robotic apparatus, with the intention to avoid damaging blood vessels. Currently, electrodes are still too big to record the firing of individual neurons, so they can record only the firing of a group of neurons; Neuralink representatives believe this issue might get mitigated algorithmically, but it's computationally expensive and does not produce exact results.[better source needed]
By August 2020, the Neuralink 1024-electrode read/write link device—v 0.9—had been approved as a FDA breakthrough device which allows it to be used in limited human testing under the FDA guidelines for testing medical devices.
- Brain-computer interface
- Cortical implant
- Surface chemistry of neural implants
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The company has hired away several high-profile neuroscientists
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- Elon Musk believes AI could turn humans into an endangered species like the mountain gorilla Archived December 4, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Isobel Asher Hamilton, Business Insider. 26 November 2018.
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- No-Action Letter: Neuralink Corp Archived July 20, 2019, at the Wayback Machine. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), October 16, 2018
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- "Ahead of Neuralink event, ex-employees detail research timeline clashes". STAT. August 25, 2020. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
- Elon Musk’s Neuralink Aims to Merge Human Brain With A.I. Archived July 29, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Dinker, TechBrackets. 18 July 2019.
- Conger, Kate. "Elon Musk unveils brain chip implant: 'It's like a Fitbit in your skull'". ABCNews. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
- Elon Musk's Neuralink Says It's Ready for Brain Surgery. Archived July 17, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg. 16 July 2019.
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- Neuralink Progress Update, Summer 2020, Neuralink, 28 August 2020, accessed 28 August 2020.
- Neuralink; Musk, Elon (August 2, 2019). "An integrated brain-machine interface platform with thousands of channels". bioRxiv. doi:10.1101/703801. (whitepaper)
- Video recording of Neuralink's presentation on July 16, 2019