Entrepreneur Elon Musk launched Neuralink Corp. to implant electrodes into human brains to enhance their computer interface, sources said.
Musk, 45, the South African-born founder and CEO of both electric carmaker Tesla Inc. and privately owned rocket company SpaceX, established the California-based company and is taking an active role in its funding and development, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing sources involved in the company’s start.
Neuralink will pursue “neural lace” technology, in which small electrodes are implanted in the brain as cranial computers.
Building on simpler technology already in use to treat Parkinson’s disease, the internal computers could be used at first to deal with brain disorders such as epilepsy and depression, a market the Wall Street Journal suggested is worth billions of dollars.
They could later be put to use as a “direct cortical interface,” Musk said, or artificial intelligence within the brain, to enhance human function and expand human potential.
Musk has commented since August on progress being made in the field, and said in a Twitter message Monday that an update about his new company could be expected in a week.
“Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to,” he said.
Neuralink, identified in state filings as a “medical research” company, recently hired several scholars in the cognition field. The industry is growing; a startup called Kernel, a Neuralink competitor, already has 20 employees, Facebook Inc. seeks “brain-computer interface engineers” and the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has $60 million to spend on implantable neural interface technology.