‘Seeking a miracle’: Elon Musk’s Neuralink wants the public’s help to solve a data compression issue

Elon Musk and his team at Neuralink have turned to the public for help in solving the company’s data compression issue, according to the Debrief. The company’s primary focus has been providing mobility to those who are paralyzed, blind, or visually impaired.

The Neuralink device is used by attaching it to a human skull and having its wires scan for neuron activity before sending out a wireless signal. The company experienced some success after its first human patient, Noland Arbaugh, a quadriplegic, used the technology to play chess games using only his mind.

‘It’s essentially seeking a miracle.’

The reason for this success is that the company was able to crunch data in such a way that made hands-free chess playing possible. However, the company has now turned to the public to help solve its data compression problem.

As it stands, the Debrief reported that the brain implant generates around 200 times more brain data per second than it can currently transmit wirelessly. The company is now seeking a new compression algorithm that will help close the gap between brain data and the amount it wirelessly transmits.

The company posted the challenge to its website, writing: “Neuralink is looking for new approaches to this compression problem, and exceptional engineers to work on it. If you have a solution, email compression@neuralink.com.”

“Your submission will be scored on the compression ratio it achieves on a different set of electrode recordings. Bonus points for optimizing latency and power efficiency. Submit with source code and build script. Should at least build on Linux,” the challenge continued.

The CBC reported that Neuralink started the challenge by providing a one-hour video of raw brain recordings from a monkey playing a simple video game. The ability to control a video game, known as MindPong, was one of the earliest demos of the brain implant.

Some social media users have dismissed the challenge as “impossible.” Some have speculated that the Neuralink team staged the challenge to prove to Musk that it could not be done, per the report.

Karl Martin—chief technology officer of the data science company Integrate.ai—said that those who consider the challenge impossible are probably correct. Martin completed his PhD thesis at the University of Toronto, which focused on data compression and security.

He said that while it is possible to compress brain wave signals at a 7 to 1 ratio, it is “far beyond what we expect to be the fundamental limit of possibility” by pushing for a 200 to 1 ratio.

“It’s essentially seeking a miracle.”

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