I appreciate the effort that was put into the article, but this web site has always rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not sure why: maybe it’s the stick-figure cartoons. Maybe it’s the vague sense of condescension I get from the various asides. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the well-researched background material with the uncritical, creepily subservient acceptance of everything Elon Musk says and (supposedly) believes.
Over a decade ago one of my professors told me that the main barrier to implanted stimulation/recording devices was materials science. The brain tends to be very paranoid about foreign matter inserted in it and quickly encapsulates it. There have been numerous attempts to put neurotrophic factors on implanted electrodes (to encourage neurons to grow towards them) and to come up with conducting but more neutral materials (like diamond, or other funky carbon forms) and I don’t know if there has been a proper breakthrough.
Neural interfaces are interesting because you start out feeling you need to understand how the brain codes information and it turns out the brain can adapt it’s code (to an extent) to what you can read/write just like it adapts to all other situations.
There was an article not too long ago mentioned on the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast:
Flexibility was key to reducing scar tissue formation.
One of the many troubles of understanding the brain is the fact that it is a bio-electric mashine which introduces an incredible depth of biochemical, biological and biophysical aspects. We are speaking here about interdependent problem domains, from the key-keyhole principle and neurotransmitters, energy/matter flow, all the horrors of cell biology and fun protein circus. We have very little understanding at this stage due to the depth and breadth of the challenge. I guess it is one of the great puzzles of life - and looking at the state of our society, perhaps it is good we do not understand it yet, even if it means that we can not heal certain psychological diseases such as depressions, psychosis, et cetera.
He who controls the spice controls the universe. It’s no wonder musk wants someone to help him build this.