World-famous billionaire Elon Musk recently announced on his social media platform X that one of his ventures has achieved a significant milestone: Neuralink successfully implanted one of its chips into a human brain.
The chips allow people to use their thoughts to control computers or phones. They also can help patients with nerve damage regain control of physiological processes, such as breathing or movement.
This is the company’s current focus.
Musk acquired Neuralink in 2016, prompting speculation that it could become one of the Tesla owner and PayPal pioneer’s most prominent companies.
The entrepreneur — who is also behind the exploration firm Space X and the Starlink satellite network — has long been linked with future-forward companies. But Neuralink has a much bigger and more ambitious goal: redefining human capability entirely.
From jellyfish to electronic nerves
Neuralink's journey did not start when Musk acquired it. In many ways, it began much further back, around 600 million years ago.
Then, the creatures of Earth lacked a complete nervous system. They were simply collections of primitive cells stacked next to each other, without the ability to move or process information.
Then came jellyfish.
Jellyfish were the first creatures to have a nervous system. It was a primitive linking of cells in a network that collected information about the surrounding environment, enough to allow them to interact with the environment even if the system was not centralised.
Then came the flatworm, which formed a centralised nervous system, sending information directly to the brain, processing it and sending specific instructions to different parts of the worm's body.
From these beginnings, centralised nervous systems spread throughout the natural world.
When mammals emerged, they needed to be able to regulate these signals to survive and communicate a wide array of complex emotions — from love to hatred, including fear, anger and compassion.