|image credit: neuralink|
In 2019, Neuralink, founded by tech billionaire, Elon Musk, revealed its plan to implant paralyzed patients with electrodes that will essentially give them their freedom again. Not only could the implant potentially give them back muscle function in the paralyzed parts of the body but it could also allow them to work with computers or smartphones using nothing but their minds.
Losing muscle function, known as paralysis, can take many different forms and occurs for many different reasons at varying levels of severity. It can be complete or partial and can occur in one limb or an entire side of the body. In some cases, it can be full-body paralysis where the person can’t move at all, often from the neck-down. The most common causes are strokes, nerve diseases, autoimmune diseases, or accidents where the spinal cord is damaged.
Elon Musk claims Neuralink brain chip will fix ‘almost anything’
Musk is hoping he can give some life back to those who are in the unfortunate position of being paralyzed. According to Musk himself, he is just one year away from being able to do that. The new device, a brain implant, would improve the user’s vision, strength, and overall quality of life. A simple, noninvasive operation would be necessary to fit the device but then, it’s all down to the user.
The electrode would be carefully inserted into the brain of the paralyzed patient, no one would even be able to tell it was there. On paper, it should be able to fix anything brain-related. People would be able to walk around, carry on with their normal lives. This could restore limb functionality, sight, speech, everything. About an inch in diameter, the device will be inserted into the brain by a robot and has everything from a battery to Bluetooth.
The Six Million Dollar Man
“People can walk around and be normal – maybe slightly better – like the six million dollar man though these days that would be cheap.”
Musk’s inspiration inevitably came from the Six Million Dollar Man. In 1970, Lee Major starred in the hit TV series Six Million Dollar Man. He played the character of Colonel Steve Austin, an astronaut who was severely injured in a crash. Rebuilt using bionic implants, a new arm, two new legs, and a new left eye, his character now had superhuman strength, speed, and vision.
Having the ability to restore lost functionality would be a huge step forward in the field of science and neurology. It could give so many people the opportunity to live their lives to the full and experience things they weren’t able to when they were paralyzed. It also creates a direct link between the human brain and computers, something which many think is necessary as we move to a digitized age. This could be life-changing for so many and change the world forever.