Get ready to plug in. (credit: Village Roadshow Pictures)
Billionaire futurist space explorer Elon Musk has a new project: a “medical research company” called Neuralink that will make brain-computer interfaces. Musk’s projects are frequently inspired by science fiction, and this one is a direct reference to a device called a “neural lace,” invented by the late British novelist Iain M.

Banks for his Culture series.
In those books, characters grow a semi-organic mesh on their cerebral cortexes, which allows them to interface wirelessly with AIs and create backups of their minds.
Having a neural lace, in Banks’ fiction, makes people essentially immortal—if they die, they’re revived from the last backup. Musk isn’t seeking immortality just yet, however.

Though he’s said publicly several times that he’d like to upload and download thoughts, possibly to fight against evil AI, he imagines that Neuralink’s proof-of-concept products will be implanted electrodes for treating epilepsy and depression.

They will be much like current implants for treating Parkinson’s, which work by regulating electrical activity in the brain.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company will likely be funded entirely by Musk or by the Founders Fund, a VC firm founded by Peter Thiel.

The Journal also reports that the company has hired three people already: “Vanessa Tolosa, an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and an expert in flexible electrodes; Philip Sabes, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco, who studies how the brain controls movement; and Timothy Gardner, a professor at Boston University who is known for implanting tiny electrodes in the brains of finches to study how the birds sing.”
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