Is Neuralink the real deal?

Elon Musk took a quick break from social media stardom to shift back to mad scientist mode, claiming that his company, Neuralink, will start implanting chips into human brains in as little as six months. 

What happened: Musk, also the company’s CEO, made the announcement at a “show and tell” event for Neuralink’s Link device: A coin-shaped chip implant that aims to enable humans to carry out tasks by controlling a computer with their brain activity. 

Why it matters: Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology like Neuralink could improve the lives of those with disabilities by assisting with mobility or communication. The device could also expand to the general population through industries like healthcare and gaming

Yes, but: Critics aren’t buying Musk’s loftier goals like restoring sight or giving quadriplegics full-body functionality, saying the BCI field is concerned with more basic tasks for now. 

  • Neuralink seems to have made little progress from its past demos, while other companies working on BCI (like Synchron) have made far more impressive advances.

It also wouldn’t be the first time Musk’s mouth created a cheque his companies can’t cash. Be it “I’ll put a man on Mars in ten years,” “Tesla will have one million self-driving robotaxis on the road by 2020,” or anything Hyperloop-related, promises have been exaggerated. 

Bottom line: Surprise, surprise, perfecting BCI technology is really hard. So don’t hold your breath for a brain chip anytime soon, whether it’s made by Musk, or any of his competitors.