Tesla CEO Launches New Brain-Focused Company

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced on Twitter that he is starting another company and that more details would be coming “in about a week.” The statement says the company, to be called Neuralink, will work on the development of a “neural lace” and is now in an “embryonic” stage. Neuralink was reportedly founded last July.

Musk described the neural lace at the Code Conference in 2016.The “neural lace” would be an implant or appendage that attaches to the brain to provide a way for brains to interact with devices or augment human intelligence. He said, “You have your limbic system, the cortex, and then a digital layer, sort of a third layer above the cortex that could work well and symbiotically with you.” The lace would interact directly with a person’s brain.

The implantable brain chips may even be able to treat neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and serious depression, one day. Less sophisticated electrodes are already used to treat Parkinson’s disease. They could also be used to enhance brain function for otherwise healthy people. Musk said implanting these types of devices might not require extensive surgery and mentioned the possibility of them being injected into the veins.

One of Musk’s co-founders at Neuralink is Max Hodak, whose bio says he was a “research assistant at Duke University Medical Center, where he built brain-machine interfaces for monkeys.” Neuralink has also hired Vanessa Tolosa, an expert in flexible electrodes from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Timothy Gardner, a researcher in brain electrodes; and Philip Sabes, a professor who studies how the brain controls movement.

Musk has taken a keen interest in artificial intelligence and is one of the sponsors of the nonprofit OpenAI project, whose mission is to ensure that the benefits of AI research are “are as widely and evenly distributed as possible.” In February, Musk said at the World Government Summit in Dubai, “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.”

Musk believes that humans merging with machines is the only way to stop AI from becoming a potential threat to the survival of the human species. He thinks all of humankind could be at risk as robots take over more human tasks and take on roles of their own.

Musk will also be busy running SpaceX and trying to get the mass-market Tesla Model 3 electric car to the public. He’s also involved in the Hyperloop project (building super-fast long distance transportation) and the Boring Company (building traffic-congestion easing tunnels in Los Angeles).