Neuralink Implants First Chip in Human Brain [Full News Memo]
Boeing Plane Update, 90% of Companies to Cut Down Remote Work, 3 U.S. Soldiers Killed by Enemy Drone Attack at Jordan Base
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Trump Tax Return Leaker Jailed: Charles Littlejohn, who leaked the tax returns of Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Ana C. Reyes in Washington. “What you did in targeting the sitting president of the United States was an attack on our constitutional democracy,” Reyes said. The leaking of Trump’s tax returns, on September 27, 2020, may have been done in an effort to affect the presidential election which was held on November 3, 2020. “I made my decision with the full knowledge that I would likely end up in a courtroom,” Littlejohn said.
Trump loses Lawsuit to E Jean Carroll: A federal jury ordered the former president to pay $83M to E Jean Carroll, who has accused him of sexual assault and defamation. In 2022, Trump paid $5M to Carroll after a jury found him guilty of sexual assault. More recently, Carroll filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of defamation for his public statements denying her story and calling her a liar. [He] “shattered my reputation,” she said. The ruling comes as Trump is set to win the Republican nomination. In response to the news, Trump said, “Our legal system is out of control, and being used as a political weapon.”
UPS, the largest courier in the U.S., announced it will lay off 12,000 employees, affecting primarily manager positions and temp labor. The logistics conglomerate employs nearly 500,000 people worldwide. The layoffs come amid lower shipping volumes for UPS, with its CEO saying the company needs to refocus on efficiency and trim some $1B in costs. Recently, costs for the company have risen in part because of a 12% wage increase negotiated by the employee union in August 2023. In conjunction with the layoffs, UPS is mandating employees work in the office five days a week, beginning in March.
More: A number of other companies, primarily in tech, have recently announced layoffs: Paypal (2,500, 9% of its staff), Square (1,000, 10% of staff), and Microsoft (1,900). See a list here.
CosMc’s: McDonald’s is testing a new restaurant concept called “CosMc’s” that will be primarily focused on beverages and a small selection of food. As part of the limited test, the first location opened in Bolingbrook, Illinois, in December, with a plan to open around 10 additional pilot locations in 2024. See the concept and menu here.
Boeing Plane Update: The door on the Alaskan Airline plane that was forced to conduct an emergency landing had not been bolted in properly during the reinstallation of the door plug, according to new reports. Other airlines have also found loose bolts on 737 Max 9 planes. The 220 seat aircraft was grounded for three weeks by The Federal Aviation Administration. As of Tuesday, Jan. 30, it is back on the runways. One former Boeing manager, Ed Pierson, who is now an advocate for aviation safety, told the Los Angeles Times, “I’ve worked in the factory where they were built, and I saw the pressure employees were under to rush the planes out the door.” Boeing and the FAA say the plane is safe to use and are adding extra checks in place before flying.
‘Take Back Our Border’ convoy: Around 700,000 people are expected to show up to a rally along various hotspots of the southern border on Feb. 3, according to organizers of the event. The group plans to protest the growing illegal immigration to the U.S. Organizer, Kim Yeater, said, “To the naysayers: We’re just ordinary citizens, farmers, ranchers, retired police officers. Not crazy conspiracy theorists. It will be a peaceful assembly of Americans of all political classes and all ethnicities.” The group says it is not against immigration, rather, illegal immigration at the recent rate.
More: A record 350,000+ migrants crossed the border in December, 2023. For context, in December 2021, there were just over 90,000 migrant entries.
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Neuralink Implants First Chip in Human Brain
What happened: Elon Musk’s startup Neuralink implanted its first brain-computer interface (BCI) chip in a human this week. Announcing it in a tweet, Musk wrote, “The first human received an implant from Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well. Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.” The identity of the recipient is unknown, although eligible trial participants are currently limited to those with quadriplegia or ALS that have lost motor function.
In a later post, Musk said the first product is called “Telepathy”, which “enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking. Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal,” he wrote.
What is Neuralink: Neuralink was founded by Musk in 2016. The company website states its mission is to “create a generalized brain interface to restore autonomy to those with unmet medical needs today and unlock human potential tomorrow.”
Neuralink received approval from the FDA to begin tests on humans in May 2023. Until now, the company has been conducting tests on monkeys and pigs
Initially, the company’s aim is to allow an individual to control a computer through their thoughts. Eventually, the goal is for Neuralink to help treat diseases of the brain, along with restoring motor functions, such as the movement of limbs, or helping restore a person’s hearing or sight. In the more distant future, Musk has said “ultimately, it’s [Neuralink] intended to address the existential risk associated with digital superintelligence…like we will not be able to be smarter than a digital supercomputer. So therefore, if you can’t beat them, join them.”
How it works: The chip, which is about the size of a quarter, is implanted in the brain utilizing a surgical robot, which Neuralink has developed internally. The chip is placed in the area of the brain that controls the intention to move, or motor cortex.
Connected to the chip are 64 miniscule threads, which collectively contain over 1,000 electrodes. (an electrode is a solid electric conductor that carries electric current into non-metallic materials). The electrodes interact with the brain’s neurons, which are cells that use a combination of electrical and chemical signals to send messages to the body.
At the most basic level, the signals from the neurons are collected by the electrodes, processed by the Neuralink chip, and sent wirelessly (Bluetooth) to a computer. Using machine learning algorithms, the computer can then recognize a repeated pattern of neuron activity that is produced for the same intention. For example, neurons in your brain may fire in a certain way every time you move the computer mouse to the left. After Neuralink has captured this pattern of neural activity many times and associated it with moving the mouse to the left, then when you just think about moving the mouse to the left, the computer will detect that neural activity pattern and carry out the function.
Neuralink posted a video in 2021 of a monkey named “Pager” playing a video game called MindPong, using Neuralink. The 3 minute video explains how it works.
To learn more about Neuralink, here are some helpful introductions:
Elon Musk Biography, Chapter 65 (11min) (Available for free with Spotify Premium)
Lex Fridman Podcast Episode: “Elon Musk: Neuralink, AI, Autopilot, and the Pale Blue Dot.” (35min) (Spotify)
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