Neuralink Shows Signs of Success and Expands to Austin

Neuralink, Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company, announced plans to expand to Austin, Texas and has been garnering significant media attention lately. Founded in 2016, it is yet another of Musk’s visionary companies generating hype. Neuralink seeks to implant chips in human brains to create brain-chip interfaces with digital devices. The wireless implants, or “neural lace”, would be surgically implanted under the skull and allow individuals to send their neuroelectrical activity to cloud servers or electronic devices.

Successfully developing implantable brain-machine interfaces is no easy feat due to the complexity of the human brain. However, Musk and his team remain optimistic that Neuralink can develop cutting-edge technology capable of eventual implantation into human brains. In addition to being able to control smartphones and the like with the neural chip, Musk hopes the chips could be used to treat chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and spinal cord injuries. A neural-digital interface could also help physically disabled people with controlling digital devices using just their minds.

Gertrude and Her Neuralink

Insertion of the Chip

Neuralink chip
Neuralink chip

Erosion Inside Brain A Concern

The relatively young company has already raised approximately $158 million through two funding rounds. About $100 million of that funding stems from Musk. Neuralink is based in San Francisco and currently employs roughly 100 employees. The company is led by Elon Musk and Max Hodak, a co-founder who serves as President of the neurotechnology company. Hodak was initially skeptical of Neuralink’s technology before being convinced by Elon Musk. Prior to Neuralink, Hodak graduated from Duke University with a biomedical engineering degree and founded a company called Transcriptic. The company focused on creating a robotic cloud laboratory for biology research.

Neuralink Recruiting Efforts

The idea of creating a miniature brain implant that could control devices outside the brain such as robotic arms or computer cursors is not a novel concept. Since the early 2000s, scientists have been performing lab experiments to test out such ideas. However, Neuralink has the benefit of past research results to build upon in its quest to develop its brain-machine interface technology. When Neuralink begins experimenting on humans, the company hopes to start by testing the technology on paralyzed individuals to see whether the technology could enable them to move a computer cursor using only their minds.

Musk envisions that Neuralink could someday produce affordable, reliable brain implants available to the masses. If Musk’s past successes with SpaceX and Tesla are any indication, Neuralink has the potential to be yet another successful company with a bold mission, but perhaps it will take longer than planned to meet Musk’s ambitious goals.

Ryan Carpenter serves as Attorney and Managing Director of Carpenter Wellington. Ryan advises clients across a broad set of corporate and commercial matters.

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