In April this year, a public announcement was made about Neuralink, Elon Musk‘s new company. It’s a brain-interface company, the idea being that one-day direct brain interfaces are going to let us communicate only with our minds.
Elon Musk is not alone. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is on to a similar brain interface challenge, with 60 engineers working on finding a solution.
BRAIN INTERFACE CHALLENGE
Elon Musk is working closely with scientists, specifically bird scientists. Because if scientists learn how a bird’s brain works, they can relate and learn how a human’s brain works.
It may sound ambitious, but it doesn’t mean it is impossible. One scientist, in particular, Timothy Gentler from the University of California at San Diego, has built a brain-to-tweet interface. It figures out the birdsong of a Finch – BEFORE it sings it.
Finch, a small bird with an orange beak, is an ordinary bird. But it is helping scientists to realize their dreams. Scientists have also managed to decode realistic synthetic birdsong directly from their brain activity, and a similar approach could be used to decode human brain activity.
BIRD’S BRAIN VS HUMAN BRAIN
Scientists explain that a songbird has a small brain but their songs are not so simple. The vocalizations, the tunes, are similar to that of a human being’s speech. This means it is easier for a scientist to understand memory and cognition via songbird.
And in the same way, a human learns the language like a songbird learns tunes. Therefore, if scientists learn how a bird’s brain works, they can understand how a human brain works.
Scientists have worked with many animals before, especially monkeys as they are so close to humans. But Makoto Fukushima, Scientist, and fellow at the National Institute for Health says birdsong gives a richer range of language than the grunts or monkeys.
All this may sound very complicated especially if you are not into science or the brain. But put into simple language, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and a whole range of science and tech people, are hoping we can learn to communicate with our brains only, including technology.
It may mean something extraordinary is yet to come.