“Omalu figured if chronic bashing of the head could destroy a boxer’s brain, couldn’t it also destroy a football player’s brain? Could that be what made Mike Webster crazy?”
These were the words of Dr. Bennet Omalu (the pathologist who did autopsy on Mike Webster’s body) to Mike’s body sitting on the slab in his lab. Mike Webster was a famous NFL player who after his long career in football was discovered to have suffered a head injury known as CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).
Upon on his death, the media confirmed that he died as a result of heart attack. But from Omalu’s findings, he discovered nothing in his heart. That made him took deep interest in the cause of his death.
After his critical assessment on the brain, he later discovered that the buildup of stress and collusion to the head of Mike (a lineman in the football game) was the cause of his dementia, brain disorder and constant depression. This brain disease is called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Although, he presented his research and findings to the NFL board but they disagreed and frustrated his science. He never backed down until he teamed up with Julian Bailes (a Neurology expert from West Virginia) and Mike’s lawyer - Bob Fitzsummons in partnership with Rockefeller family to set up a foundation called “The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute” (in memory of Senator Jay Rockefeller’s mom, Blanchette, who had Alzheimer’s and died in 1992).
Elon Musk is known for unimaginable inventions such with SpaceX (first person to launch into the space - Mars) and Tesla (the electric automobile company). He announced his plans to create a link between the human brain and machine last year.
While briefing the public via a webcast this year, he said; “they wants to build a brain-to-machine interface”. He understands that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a disruptive approach to human race. And to prepare ahead of this global adoption, his new startup - Neuralink wants to build “superhuman cognitive”.
The objectives of the startup is to help patients with brain disabilities, brain diseases such as CTE, Parkinson etc to be able to interact with programmable devices such as computers and phones.
Few days ago, a trial was conducted on a pig called Gertrude
You can watch the full video of Elon Musk presentation
While this initiative appears to be at its infancy stage, I think there is a link between what Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered as a cause of CTE and what Elon Musk startup (Neuralink) is about to solve. The big problem is that a lot of people are suffering from brain damage, diseases and head injuries as a result of accidents and extreme sports just in case of Mike Webster and the other sixteen cases of CTE discovered by Omalu.
Although, they have not been able to discover any medicine to cure this disease (Omalu’s team). But we have a proven science from Neuralink that brain-to-machine interface is possible with the help of a chip implant under the brain.
Nevertheless, the company is yet to brief the general public about the likely implications of chip under the brain and how the spikes gotten from any individual would be used (especially as regards ones privacy and all). Probably, it would be for health purposes alone and not for general domain.
The Neuralink aim would be portrayed in a good way if this chip can help patients with brain diseases to communicate with computer through their minds. Also, the company confirmed in a report that another test has been conducted on a spice of mammals- monkey.
While we await a human trial of the Neuralink chip, the company should brief the public about the hazards involved to have an implant. No doubt this will be a great project.