Elon’s Neural Lace May Kill You

It has nothing to do with injecting a metal mesh into your brain

Sean M Everett
Mar 30, 2017 · 4 min read

This week Elon Musk announced his latest company, Neuralink, which hopes to produce something called a Neural Lace. You may not know this but it’s the second neural lace company to come out in the last year. The first is called Kernel and was started by Bryan Johnson of Braintree and Chicago Booth fame.

It works by injecting a mesh across your brain that hopefully gives a new way to communicate with your computer. Instead of speaking to Siri or typing on your MacBook, this theoretical technology allows you to move at the speed of thought.

Said in more tech jargon, a new IO port connecting a Human to a Machine. It’s the opposite approach of emulating an animal’s brain and nervous system in software.

The promise of a system like this is intoxicating. You can learn new things easier, and get things done faster. Imagine all the time you’d save or how much farther you’d get going after your dreams.

But the reality is that this is dangerous. And it has nothing to do with cracking open your skull and implanting some metallic mesh over the top of your neocortex. Rather, it has everything to do with the amount of energy being pushed from the computer into your brain.

As mentioned in our previous analysis of this topic there are a few use cases that are possible aside from the simplistic brain to machine communication interface. Some of these include:

  • Inject the mesh into the corner of your eye, have it unfold onto your retina and have it record. Now that’s some live streaming that would disrupt Apple’s latest iPhone.
  • Stimulate the neural circuits to organize themselves the same way they were when you were younger. A fountain of youth to reverse aging, but also potentially reverse your life experiences?
  • Regrow damaged brain tissue by coupling the mesh with stem cells. Alzheimer’s treatment, perhaps?.
  • Rewire your neural connections the way you want. That might just help you learn Organic Chem, Calculus, or in the case of The Matrix’s Neo…Jujitsu.

That’s part and parcel different than what a lot of the media pundits and even some insiders have talked about for the use cases but these are real if you talk to some of the scientists who have published their findings in Nature.

Based on our research and development over the last 6 years emulating animal brain and nervous systems into software and robotics (i.e., Biologic Intelligence), we have observed a few things.

The most relevant to this topic, however, frightened us a bit. Even though we consider ourselves inventors and entrepreneurs who rally around those who create things that never before existed, we felt it was our responsibility to at least bring some new knowledge to light.

Any animal’s Biologic Intelligence is very sensitive to the amount of energy flowing through the system. Too little and it doesn’t start up. Too much and it overloads. When you’re talking about software, this stuff just seems yawn-inducing.

Like, we get it man. Push too much current through a circuit and you’re going to fry the chip.

But lets stop talking about it in terms of frying a hardware chip and consider the implications of frying a biologic chip. Namely, your brain and nervous system.

If you plug yourself into a computer and that machine dumps a buttload of energy (technical term) into your brain because of some software bug or it just felt like uploading the entirety of the internet into your consciousness, you’ll be in for quite a shock.

Force too much energy into your brain and you will have an epileptic seizure.

We have observed this behavior in our emulations; this is an example of what it looks like all buggered out:

Biologic Intelligence Seizure

So, I would urge the folks who are going after this problem set and attempting to spend 15 years or more developing the technology to look into some real emulations of animal connectomes.

Because we all know FDA approval and human trials on this puppy are going to be a hard-fought battle even if you can prove that it works safely.

Consider it your QA safety net before you even get started.


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A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

Sean M Everett

Written by

20 years advising and operating startups to F500s, in high growth and turnaround situations. http://everettadvisors.com

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org