The chip being developed by Elon Musk’s neural technology company – Neuralink – will be able to stream music directly into your brain.
Musk confirmed this feature could be available in a tweet responding to Twitter user Austin Howard.
While the idea of not having to use an external audio device such as a speaker or headphones to listen to your favourite songs may sound appealing, the main goals of the Neuralink chip are far more ambitious.
The device is implanted in the skull, with a removable and upgradable pod located at the back of the ear. This connects to the brain via multiple threads consisting of thousands of electrodes.
The pod will then be connected wirelessly to a computer or other device for data transferral.
The brain-machine interface will initially be intended for use in persons with cranial injuries and other cerebral trauma.
For example, it could be used to give a paralysed person the ability to control computers and other devices with their mind.
Musk has also said that it may be able to address other brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Among its claimed capabilities, it will also be able to stop the rapid firing of neurons in patients with OCD, and control hormone levels to enhance abilities to reason and relieve anxiety.
Back in July 2019, Musk claimed that Neuralink had been successfully tested on a monkey, which was able to control a computer with its brain.
At the time, the company said it aimed to implant a Neuralink chip in a human by the end of 2020, although no new details on human trials have been forthcoming.
Brain implants not new
Although its original uses will be to address brain-health related issues, Musk ultimately wants to achieve a full brain-machine interface with a “sort of symbiosis with AI.”
While this idea may sound otherworldly, brain-machine interface implants are nothing new.
The first person with spinal cord paralysis to receive an implant which allowed him to control a computer cursor was Matthew Nagle.
The device was implanted in 2004, and in 2006 Nagle showed how he was able to play a game of pong using only his mind.
The system Nagle used is called BrainGate, and has since been implanted in multiple paralysed persons to enable them to interface with electronic systems, including bring objects into focus and move robotic arms.
However, BrainGate relies on a series of stiff needles which only allows for up to 128 electrode channels, compared to the 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across Neuralink’s 96 threads.
This means that Neuralink will have much higher bandwidth and be capable of transferring larger amounts of data to improve communication between the brain and linked devices.