Elon Musk is one step closer to connecting a computer to your brain

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Neuralink has demonstrated a prototype of its brain-machine interface that currently works in pigs.

At a Friday event, Elon Musk revealed more details about his mysterious neuroscience company Neuralink and its plans to connect computers to human brains. While the development of this futuristic-sounding tech is still in its early stages, the presentation was expected to demonstrate the second version of a small, robotic device that inserts tiny electrode threads through the skull and into the brain. Musk said ahead of the event he would “show neurons firing in real-time. The matrix in the matrix.”

And he did just that. At the event, Musk showed off several pigs that had prototypes of the neural links implanted in their head, and machinery that was tracking those pigs’ brain activity in real time. The billionaire also announced the Food and Drug Administration had awarded the company a breakthrough device authorization, which can help expedite research on a medical device.

Like building underground car tunnels and sending private rockets to Mars, this Musk-backed endeavor is incredibly ambitious, but Neuralink builds on years of research into brain-machine interfaces. A brain-machine interface is technology that allows for a device, like a computer, to interact and communicate with a brain. Neuralink, in particular, aims to build an incredibly powerful brain-machine interface, a device with the power to handle lots of data, that can be inserted in a relatively simple surgery. Its short-term goal is to build a device that can help people with specific health conditions.

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Scientists inspired by Star Wars develop artificial skin capable of recreating sense of touch

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A researcher at the NUS demonstrates the self-healing abilities of an artificial, transparent skin

ACES, or Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin, comprises up to 100 small sensors to replicate a sense of feeling.

  • Researchers say it can process information faster than the nervous system
  • The skin is able to recognise 20 to 30 different textures
  • The technology is still in the experimental stage

Singapore researchers have developed “electronic skin” capable of recreating a sense of touch, an innovation they hope will allow people with prosthetic limbs to detect objects, as well as feel texture, or even temperature and pain.

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Elon Musk claims AI will overtake humans in ‘less than five years’

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Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence are already capable of passing some Turing tests. ( AFP via Getty Images )

Existential threat posed by artificial intelligence is much closer than previously predicted, billionaire warns.

Elon Musk has warned that humans risk being overtaken by artificial intelligence within the next five years.

The prediction marks a significant revision of previous estimations of the so-called technological singularity, when machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence and accelerates at an incomprehensible rate.

Noted futurist Ray Kurzweil previously pegged this superintelligence tipping point at around 2045, citing exponential advances in technologies like robotics, computers and AI.

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Elon Musk claims his Neuralink chip will allow you to stream music directly to your brain

Brain-computer interface could also give people ‘enhanced abilities’

Elon Musk‘s mysterious Neuralink startup is working on a brain-computer interface that will allow wearers to stream music directly to their brain, the technology entrepreneur has claimed.

Mr Musk, who also heads SpaceX and Tesla, is set to reveal new information about the mysterious startup next month but has been slowly releasing details over Twitter in recent days.

Responding to computer scientist Austin Howard, Mr Musk confirmed that Neuralink’s technology would allow people to “listen to music directly from our chips.”

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Disrupting death: Could we really live forever in digital form?

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Virtual reality, robots, chatbots and holograms could allow us to exist perpetually. Whether we should choose the option is a different story.

In 2016, Jang Ji-sung’s young daughter Nayeon passed away from a blood-related disease. But in February, the South Korean mother was reunited with her daughter in virtual reality. Experts constructed a version of her child using motion capture technology for a documentary. Wearing a VR headset and haptic gloves, Jang was able to walk, talk and play with this digital version of her daughter.

“Maybe it’s a real paradise,” Jang said of the moment the two met in VR. “I met Nayeon, who called me with a smile, for a very short time, but it’s a very happy time. I think I’ve had the dream I’ve always wanted.”

Once largely the concern of science fiction, more people are now interested in immortality — whether that’s keeping your body or mind alive forever (as explored in the new Amazon Prime comedy Upload), or in creating some kind of living memorial, like an AI-based robot or chatbot version of yourself, or of your loved one. The question is — should we do that? And if we do, what should it look like?

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‘It’s like you have a hand again’: A major breakthrough in robotic limb technology

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Grafting tiny bits of muscle to amputated nerves provides a way to control a robotic limb

Joe Hamilton intuitively controls a prosthetic hand using the Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interface, or RPNI, in a lab on the University of Michigan Medical Campus. (Evan Dougherty/University of Michigan Engineering)

Researchers with the University of Michigan have announced a breakthrough in nerve-controlled prosthetic technology, which allows amputees the ability to control their hands and fingers precisely, intuitively, and in real time.

They’re claiming it as a major advancement in mind-controlled prosthetics.

“The idea of trying to get a prosthetic control signal from a nerve has been around at least as long as Empire Strikes Back,” Cindy Chestek told Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald. “It’s just been really hard to do because the physics is not in your favour.”

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Would you want immortal life as a cyborg?

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Transhumanism can mean uploading one’s mind into cyberspace. But some transhumanists hope to slowly morph into “immortal cyborgs” with endlessly replaceable parts.

Five years ago, we were told, we were all turning into cyborgs:

Did you recently welcome a child into the world? Congratulations! An upstanding responsible parent such as yourself is surely doing all you can to prepare your little one for all the pitfalls life has in store. However, thanks to technology, children born in 2014 may face a far different set of issues than you ever had to. And we’re not talking about simply learning to master a new generation of digital doohickeys, we’re talking about living in a world in which the very definition of “human” becomes blurred.

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Elon Musk’s company Neuralink plans to connect people’s brains to the internet by next year using a procedure he claims will be as safe and easy as LASIK eye surgery

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Elon Musk on Tuesday announced in a livestream that his neurotechnology startup, Neuralink, hoped to begin implanting devices into human brains as early as next year.

Musk has invested $100 million into the secretive company since its founding in 2016, according to The New York Times, and he says he hopes it will achieve “symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

Musk said the Neuralink system would allow for a tiny chip, known as a brain-machine interface, to be implanted into the minds of willing subjects.

The chip would be designed to stimulate the brain’s neurons using tiny flexible threads of electrodes that would be inserted into the brain in a procedure Musk said would be as safe and painless as LASIK eye surgery.

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What are the ethical consequences of immortality technology?

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Detail from The Fountain of Youth (1546) by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Courtesy Wikipedia

Immortality has gone secular. Unhooked from the realm of gods and angels, it’s now the subject of serious investment – both intellectual and financial – by philosophers, scientists and the Silicon Valley set. Several hundred people have already chosen to be ‘cryopreserved’ in preference to simply dying, as they wait for science to catch up and give them a second shot at life. But if we treat death as a problem, what are the ethical implications of the highly speculative ‘solutions’ being mooted?

Of course, we don’t currently have the means of achieving human immortality, nor is it clear that we ever will. But two hypothetical options have so far attracted the most interest and attention: rejuvenation technology, and mind uploading.

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Mark Zuckerberg says brain-reading wearables are coming, but certain functions may require implanted devices

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes his keynote speech during Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019.

 Zuckerberg said on Thursday said that he’s thinking more about brain-controlling wearable and implantable technology.

“The goal is to eventually make it so that you can think something and control something in virtual or augmented reality,” he said.

Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that he wants to work on brain-controlling wearable and implantable technology, and Facebook’s recent acquisition of CTRL-labs was a step in that direction.

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The tech helping dogs learn to ‘talk’ with humans

 

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Using nose-activated vests and touchscreens, our canine pals are being trained to summon help for their handlers—and much more.

Imagine you’re enjoying a pleasant stroll through the park when you hear someone say, “My owner needs your attention! Please follow me!” You look around and see no one; then you look down and see a dog staring up at you. You think someone’s pulling a fast one. But then the dog reaches around and his mouth tugs something on the yellow vest he’s wearing, and you hear it again.

“My owner needs your attention! Please follow me!” the dog seems to say again, looking at you plaintively and now beckoning with body language for you to follow him. You do, and he leads you to someone who’s having a severe allergic reaction, a seizure, or some other medical emergency.

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Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality

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Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality

EPFL scientists have developed a soft artificial skin that provides haptic feedback and—thanks to a sophisticated self-sensing mechanism—has the potential to instantaneously adapt to a wearer’s movements. Applications for the new technology range from medical rehabilitation to virtual reality. Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality.

Just like our senses of hearing and vision, our sense of touch plays an important role in how we perceive and interact with the world around us. And technology capable of replicating our sense of touch—also known as haptic feedback—can greatly enhance human-computer and human-robot interfaces for applications such as medical rehabilitation and virtual reality.

Scientists at EPFL’s Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL), headed by Jamie Paik, and Laboratory for Soft Bioelectronic Interfaces (LSBI), headed by Stéphanie Lacour at the School of Engineering, have teamed up to develop a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes. Both labs are part of the NCCR Robotics program.

The skin’s system of soft sensors and actuators enable the artificial skin to conform to the exact shape of a wearer’s wrist, for example, and provide haptic feedback in the form of pressure and vibration. Strain sensors continuously measure the skin’s deformation so that the haptic feedback can be adjusted in real time to produce a sense of touch that’s as realistic as possible. The scientists’ work has just been published in Soft Robotics.

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