8月29日 特斯拉老总马一龙又召开了一个发布会——招聘会。宣布了他于2016年成立的新公司Neuralink 取得了“重大”进展，并为大家带来了新产品，就是这枚硬币大小的装置。
Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla, held another press conference on August 29th, ah, no, a job fair, announcing that his new company, Neuralink, which was founded in 2016, had made “significant” progress and brought a new product, a device the size of a coin.
With an 8mm “ultra-thin” appearance and an implantable “invisible” design, it supports up to 24 hours of ultra-long battery life and wireless charging. The implant is performed by this magical robot, which needs to lift a small piece of your skull, implant the device, and seal it with a replacement material.
Officials claim that it takes only an hour, and during the whole process of implantation into the brain, the machine will accurately avoid all the blood vessels in the brain, and it is said that it will not shed a single drop of blood... no need for surgery, and your hairstyle is not messy, you can enjoy the extremely fast experience of being admitted to the hospital in the morning and discharged in the afternoon.
However, when it comes to the functional display, Musk basically only demonstrated some routine operations in the brain-computer interface... It is obvious that his new team, which has been established for less than five years, looks awesome seemingly, but has not made a substantial breakthrough like he bragged before.
What on earth is the cause of this? What is the brain-computer interface? Can I play games using my mind in the future?
I am Emma. Today, I will talk about the five major application scenarios of the brain-computer interface in the future, and whether it will come from a dream to a reality in the end!
After talking to a number of brain-computer interface practitioners in China, the United States and Europe, I found that there was a polarization of Musk’s press conference:
一方面，做科研的脑机接口大佬都认为马斯克就是个大忽悠，发布会貌似挺炫酷，其实没啥实质性技术突破；08年那只能意念控制机械臂的猴子，16年就成功在公屏上打出莎士比亚名言“To be or not to be"的猴子，哪只灵长类不比这头脑机接口的猪技术含量高？
On the one hand, the specialists engaged in the brain-computer interface all think that Musk is an arrant liar, and the press conference seems cool, but there is no substantial technological breakthrough; the monkey that could use its mind to control the robotic arm in 2008, successfully typed Shakespeare’s famous words “To be or not to be” in 2016. Which primate is not more technical than this brain-computer interface pig?
But on the other hand, the bigwigs of engineering and business think it is awesome. Although the technological breakthrough seems to be mediocre, he actually is playing the long game, because there are so many applications of brain-computer interface, and Musk once again seems to have set out early on the eve of an inflection point in a huge industry.
We are now interacting with the phone by hands, while the brain-computer interface allows your brain to interact directly with the device, and you can control external devices through brain activities, that is, EEG. For example, every time you want to type“protect”, you can do it without your hands. And every time you want to type that “Emma is so cute”, you can send it directly with your mind. Some time ago, Taobao released a “taobao neurabuy”, that is, you can place an order for shopping with your brain. The people who like to buy don’t have to chop their hands anymore, for they can only rely on their mothers to control their minds.
As mentioned before at DannyPal, there are two kinds of brain-computer interface: non-intrusive and intrusive, and the difference between them is a bit like plastic surgery and ordinary medical beauty: one requires surgery to put the implant in your body, and the other can connect the human brain to the machine without a scalpel, only by the device instead.
Let me first talk about the more astounding one--- intrusive brain-computer interface, which Musk demonstrated through this pig: open your forehead and put a “chip” in it to receive, record, and stimulate your brain activity.
This pig had no choice, so it was “brain-computer combined” by Musk. However, which one of us normal people wants to let someone open our head and put a chip in it? So the application scenario of this technology is destined to be a minority, and it must be limited to extreme medical rehabilitation in the beginning, such as patients with severe brain trauma.
Musk has a characteristic when he gives a speech: other pie in the sky, but he “cakes” in the sky and likes to brag at different levels. I still remember that in the early days of SpaceX, when the parts being designed, he was already boasting of “Colonizing the Mars”. Ah, man, your goal is too far away, but the first step is to make the rocket! The launch of this brain-computer interface conference was also following the same routine. Even before the chip is implanted into the monkey’s brain, which is closer to the human brain, he has already boasted about how this technology can cure all diseases and become widely available.
What I am good at doing is to highlight, distinguish between the true and the false, and divide the layout of Musk’s small composition. Judging from the current technological maturity, there will be three ladders for the medical application of the “brain-computer interface”.
The most mature one is movement control, that is, through the implanted chip, the limbs of the human body can be controlled, so that Parkinson patients will no longer shake their hands, and helping paraplegic patients walk again. The paraplegic man who kicked off the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 was achieved by using man-machine interface technology. So when Musk said that the technique could help paraplegic and epileptic patients, the boast was reliable, at least now in the lab.
In addition to the control of the limbs, the next direction of the man-machine interface is perceptual control, which controls vision, hearing and so on through the implanted chip. Once realized, there will be an opportunity to restore the communication ability of 900000 deaf-mute people in the world and 39 million blind people to see the world again, which is a great service to mankind. Now, however, there is no way for us to use neural signals to control perception: the neural pathway is not understood, the neural expression is not clear as well, so short-term technology will definitely not be able to breakthrough. Musk is absolutely telling a Mars-level lie.
The more difficult and ridiculous medical effect is to control and repair cognitive abilities through man-machine interface, such as what Musk calls “memory uploading” and “downloading your memories to another person’s brain”, which was such a metaphysics that made all neuroscientists roll their eyes directly. To borrow the analogy of Dr. Jeff Lichtman of Harvard: if we use a kilometer of road to represent that we have fully understood the brain, now we have walked about 2 centimeters along this section of the road. Musk’s this boast, in today’s technology, is simply launched directly out of the solar system.
But Iron Man is Iron Man after all, for apart from bragging, there is something special about him. Whether it’s electric automobiles, rockets or man-machine interface, Musk’s initial small goal is not to achieve the best technical prominence, but the potential for commercialization, as is the case with Neuralink.
The man-machine interface technology demonstrated by Neuralink today was made ten years ago. But its highlight is the introduction of wireless charging implant, such a small, lightweight-looking implant. The smaller and the more concise the medical equipment put into the body is, the easier it is to accept. No matter what the final technology can achieve, if the Neuralink mini product battles with the man-machine interface in the lab, who do you think investors and consumers will pay for?
Not only Neuralink, but 95% of the world’s intrusive brain-computer interface technology is also using medical rehabilitation as an entry point. But the future application of man-machine combination is certainly not limited to hospitals and laboratories.
Some of the brain-computer interface applications I’m talking about below are more than magical, but they are already being done by companies. Comments are welcome to complain about these technology pioneers.
You can play mobile games with hands, then can you play them without hands?
As long as you have money!
In the future, if you buy such a device and wear it on your head, it can capture your EEG, you can completely control the game world with the activity of your brain, meaning you can also play games with your mind when you lie down, really winning in a breeze. Can you refuse that?
Now there is such a device, developed by a company called Neurable. Let me show you. It has a lot of threads, and it’s a little heavy to wear it, which makes your hairstyle a little messy. But when we fat indoors men play games, who cares about hairstyles?
I really liked this uniform of the lass that I saw in BW last month, so I secretly photographed it, uploaded it to Taobao, found the same style, manually selected the size, hesitated for a while, placed an order and paid for it, which took a total of eight steps to complete.
What product managers think about every day is how to optimize the product path so that users can reach the destination with the least number of clicks.
For example, the Taobao Neurabuy released by Taobao at the Creation Festival some time ago is to make the operation path of your purchase more simple and rough, when it comes to the process of issuing an order, you can directly use your brain to exhale the “Taobao neurabuy system” to recommend and place an order.
It sounds mysterious, but it may be possible in the future to buy whatever you want, return it if you want, and give it a discount if you want... well, forget it, don’t always think about discounts, for if you buy too much, you may be punished by your mother.
If the brain-computer interface is equivalent to a computer implanted into the human body, then the mind-purchase may be the operating system of this computer, and shopping may only be the first function of the software on this computer, and there may be more applications in the future.
Let us fill our mind with more visions and ideas and more magical: in the future, can the human brain update knowledge, or even buy a virtual girlfriend, as easily as a mobile phone update system? For example, buying music score and implanting it into your brain is as simple as buying equipment for your hero. Do you think it is possible?
Smart people can read ten lines at one glance, and quantum fluctuations can take in a thousand lines, but no matter how smart they are, the speed of speaking and typing is limited.
I tried and typed an average of 3 words per second on the phone.
Rap God Eminem’s tongue broke the Guinness record and can only rap7.46 words per second.
How to solve the problem of extremely low output efficiency? The brain-computer interface said, “Go away and; Leave it to me”.
Facebook has been studying how to collect brainwaves through extra-brain devices and generate language directly since 2017, without speaking or hands, and 100 words could be generated per second easily. This is the real “I think therefore I am”, and the tailor is not as fast as me. The thoughts in your head skip the mouth and hands and turn directly into screenful words.
Cameras and DingTalk can only monitor whether you go to school and work on time. But the brain-computer device can directly monitor your brain. Now BrainCo, one of the hottest companies with brain-computer interface, has developed a head ring, which is worth less than 5000 yuan and can show your concentration.
Red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and purple, do you listen to me carefully? Do you pay attention to my video? I can tell as soon as you wear the head ring. Red means you love me, orange means that’s OK, and blue means we should just break up, for if you are reluctant to be together, there will be no happiness.
There is a cuter one, launched by the Japanese company Neurowear. This cat’s ears will stand up when you study absorbedly; if your attention is just a little focused, they will swing back and forth; when you are absent-minded, the cat’s ears will collapse directly. I feel that this is suitable for the KOL and uploaders in the knowledge area...
Let’s take a look at this famous Gartner Emerging Technology Cycle Curve. Cutting-edge technologies such as brain-computer interface are actually still in their infancy.
Whether it is the intrusive brain-computer combination of Neuralink just mentioned, or the Taobao Neurabuy, etc., it is a big challenge to really realize the commercial popularization.
The biggest problem with the invasive brain-computer interface is the compatibility with the brain after implantation. There is not only a hard skull as a helmet to protect the human brain, but also a blood-brain barrier to prevent anything from invading. It is difficult to get an implanted chip to overcome the brain's exclusivity carefully designed by the Creator and to solve the problem of infection caused by the long-term placement of electrodes, which is as difficult as letting the King of “nobody knows better than me” be humble.
As for the non-intrusive brain-computer interface, there is also a technical nemesis, that is, the efficiency of brain-computer information transmission. There are more than 86 billion neurons in the human brain, and most of them are hidden in folds. At present, there is no technical penetration and coverage, which can finely record or stimulate neuronal signals, so the existing man-machine interface devices are actually low-level players.
Musk’s little pig press conference successfully flooded the screen, which not only focused on brain-computer interface and neuroscience but also raised a lot of philosophical issues.
The brain is like Pandora’s box, no one knows whether to open it, how to open it, or what will happen when it is opened. So everyone can only cross the river by feeling the stones.
The original intention of the emergence of cutting-edge technology is often kind, for instance, the brain-computer interface can help the disabled, entertain the public, be easier to control, and so on. However, it is often easy to change in the process of development. Those who have watched Black Mirror should understand that. So when dealing with cutting-edge technology, Google once laid down an iron rule: do not use technology to do evil, but when put it into practice... Just take a look at what Google has deleted on Youtube recently?
In the critical period of great power’s confrontation, we are never short of people who promote their emotions, but those who work diligently and study cutting-edge science and technology down to earth. After all, boasting can not let us win truly. Only by accumulating basic science and mastering the core technology can we avoid letting others hold the throat of fate.
Technology itself has two sides, evil people will use it to do bad things, while kind people will use it to make the world more convenient and beautiful. In fact, it’s not just technology, but everything in the world, just like in my favorite movie Les Choristes, a group of bad teenagers can sing the sounds of nature under the guidance of a patient and kind-hearted teacher.
That’s all I want to share today. If you like this video, don’t forget to like it and follow me. I am Emma, technology in left-handed, literature in right-handed. See you next time.