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Celebrating 20 years of the technologies, trailblazers, and trendsetters shaping the global economy.EmTech MIT is the highlight of our year.

Held on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA, our flagship annual event offers a carefully curated perspective on the most significant developments of the year, with a focus on understanding their potential economic and societal impact.MIT Technology Review’s editors will bring to life the most significant advances in AI, climate adaption, personalized medicine, data security, and more at this year’s EmTech MIT.

In areas from urban planning to agriculture, we will examine innovative initiatives underway to support communities and regional economies through adaptation to a changed climate.

The stakes are rising as new technologies—from the ability to edit the human genome to artificial intelligences we don’t fully understand—are created and shared nearly immediately at global scale.

Elon Musk’s brain-interface company is promising big news. Here’s what it could be.

Neuralink, the secretive company bankrolled by Elon Musk to develop brain-computer interfaces, will provide its first public update later today in an event streamed over the internet.

This could be the big reveal of what the mysterious company has been up to since Musk announced it two years ago, and hired a pack of leading university neuroscientists to pursue his goal of connecting human brains directly to artificial-intelligence software.

A look at the available evidence suggests Neuralink will show off a “high-bandwidth” connection to a monkey brain—one able to extract lots of information by recording the activity of many neurons at once, using ultrathin flexible electrodes.

Previously, experimental brain interfaces have been used to let paralyzed humans move cursors and robotic arms with their thoughts, to try to listen in to their speech, to stimulate memory formation, and to try to treat depression.

Based on speculation from outside experts, former insiders, and the past work of scientists Neuralink has hired, the company may be using what’s called a neural “sewing machine” to inject flexible wire electrodes into a monkey’s brain and then record from a very large number of neurons at once.

Members of the company’s founding team have worked on brain interfaces as widely different as tiny metal seeds (so-called “neural dust”) powered by sound waves and holograms that convey data into animal brains.

“If you want to augment a human, you need to do a lot of basic work first.” (We emailed several Neuralink employees for comment, including Hodak, but didn’t hear back.) Some scientists are concerned about focusing too much on the sheer number of electrodes that can be stuffed into a brain.

In 2017 DARPA handed out $65 million to build a “brain modem” that could connect with a million neurons, but José-Alain Sahel, who is working on brain implants to restore vision at the University of Pittsburgh, told me he’s suggested that the agency deemphasize the numerical goal.

“What’s important for treatments is whether the signal is meaningful.” One factor behind the drive for a dense web of connections is the hope that if the brain can be measured at a larger scale, then the buzzing of thousands, or millions, of neurons could be fed into a deep-learning program—like those in development by OpenAI, another Musk venture.

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