Inverse Daily: Elon Musk's Neuralink Revealed

Neuralink, Elon Musk’s ambitious project to wire up the brain to computers, stepped out of the shadows Tuesday evening.

Elon Musk

What’s going on, Inverse Daily fam? While I’m still snickering over Chicago’s excellently named runaway alligator, “Chance the Snapper,” let’s get you caught up on today’s news.

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It sounds like Grimes is loosely referring to the practice of astral projection to describe out-of-body-like experiences she has in the tank.”

— Lift Floats owner David Leventhal, on the pop artist Grimes’ claim that she can “astro-glide” to other dimensions while in a sensory deprivation tank.

Neuralink

Brain Bonanza

Remember how last week, we heard news that Elon Musk was going to make a big announcement about Neuralink, his much-hyped brain-computer interface? Well, there’s news all right. As the team announced last night, they’re just about ready to begin testing on humans. And soon: “We hope to have this, aspirationally, in a human patient, before the end of next year. So this is not far,” Musk said.

The Neuralink product itself is four tiny “N1 chips” surgically implanted into the brain’s motor areas and somatosensory cortex. (“You have no wires poking out of your head,” Musk assures us.) Then, through an iPhone app, users will interface with their neural links, training themselves — and the A.I. — how to use it. The overarching goal, as ever, is to achieve symbiosis.

Discover the six things we learned about Neuralink here.

The more you know:

It’s All the Same In Here

Pop psychology tells us that men and women get turned on by different things and, therefore, respond in different ways. As the stereotype goes, men become sexually aroused by visual elements, whereas women tend toward the emotional. This suggests that the turned-on brains of different sexes will appear different as well, but as Peter Hess reports, a surprising new study argues that’s not the case.

To study what happens in the brain when we’re sexually aroused, scientists use brain imaging to visualize patterns of neural activity while people look at erotic photos of videos. Previously, many of them had concluded that men and women do respond differently to sexual arousal. But the new meta-analysis of 61 of those studies shows the opposite, suggesting that arousal isn’t nearly as sex-dependent as we once thought.

Learn more about the turned-on brain.

The more you know:

Addiction Fiction?

An issue that keeps coming up in debates over marijuana legalization is whether or not the substance is addictive. According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, the answer is yes. Others are not so sure, noting that it depends on how you define “addiction.” The Australian researchers who came up with a new “cannabis replacement” therapy are firmly in the former camp, but they want to use the term “dependence,” not “addiction.”

Their plan to wean people with problematic cannabis use off of the drug is to use cannabis in smaller doses. The concept is pretty much the same as using a nicotine patch for smoking cessation. Their under-the-tongue spray, made up of equal parts psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD, is meant to help people with marijuana dependency, who, in Australia, frequently relapse after curbing their use.

Read up on how it’s meant to treat marijuana “addiction.”

The more you know:

Train to Tomorrow

Just the other day, we were talking about the emergence of solar-powered cars, which Elon Musk previously rolled his eyes at for not having enough surface area for solar panels. Next up in solar-powered transportation is the long-awaited solar train. As Mike Brown reports, the world’s first railway lines directly powered by sunlight are set to launch next month in the United Kingdom.

It’s been a big couple of years for the emerging tech. In July 2017, Indian Railways launched a train kitted with 16 photovoltaic panels, the same year that the Byron Bay Railroad Company in Australia took the wraps off its all-solar train. Unlike these trains, however, the UK’s new setup won’t rely on solar collected from the room of the train but rather from the substation box, placed around every two miles, on DC-powered tracks.

Find out how much greener a solar train can be.

The more you know:

RAGE Against the Machine

Anyone who’s ever dieted or exercised in order to shed a few pounds is probably familiar with the frustrating feeling of being stalled. Weight loss and fat burning is difficult, and it’s not always because of an inadequate eating plan or exercise regime. As Emma Betuel reports, scientists recently proposed that a mechanism as old as humanity itself may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

The process centers on the interestingly named RAGE proteins, which act as a “brake” to stop the body from burning fat, therefore leading to less weight loss. When mice lack these proteins — that is, when there’s nothing to pump the brakes — they tend to expend more energy while resting and gain less weight, even when they are eating nothing but fatty foods. There’s evidence that RAGE proteins become even more active during stressful times, like the prospect of starvation, whether induced by the environment or a fad diet.

Find out about the molecular mechanism in the way of weight loss here.

The more you know:

Today’s Good Thing

Because life on this planet is only going to get better if we try to make it better, each day I’ll be presenting One Good Thing humans are doing to create positive change.

Today, that’s the environmental agency of Abu Dhabi, a coastal city that’s extremely vulnerable to the climate crisis. It’s extensively replanting mangroves along its shorelines to protect against the rising tides and erosion.

Meanwhile …

  • iOS 12.4 Beta suggests Apple’s titanium credit card release is imminent.
  • Patent filings detail Sony’s plan to make a breakthrough VR headset.
  • Taika Waititi will return to the MCU to direct Thor 4, but at the potential loss of Akira.

Inverse Loot

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Thanks for reading, gang! I liked hearing your thoughts on microdosing.

“The hippies of the ‘60s had the right idea,” said Virginia S. In his experience, Dave S. says microdosing can be “inadequate” compared to macrodosing (“surely some scientist out there is interested in what a 70-year-old body can accomplish while tripping higher than a kite”). In support of experimenting, DeeDee D. said it succinctly: “Go science!”

Thoughts on what humanity should do with a Neuralink? Let me know at yasmin@inverse.com.

So I can keep buying cars off Elon Musk,

— Yasmin

Media via Neuralink