Neural Lace vs Uploading Your Brain

Neural Lace vs Uploading Your Brain

What is Neuralink’s ‘Neural Lace’?


Let’s start off with Neuralink. Neuralink is Elon Musk’s very secretive company that describes itself as “Developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.” As put in SXSW, we currently have very low bandwidth, especially in terms of output. Usually, when interacting with mobile software we are limited to our fingers and thumbs, and in some cases our voices. Neuralink intends to make this software interaction far easier and faster with a neural lace. Neuralink is expected to make some sort of announcement in the coming months, as alluded to by Elon Musk on the Joe Rogan podcast.

"Developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers."
Neuralink Announcement

Neural lace

So what actually is a neural lace? In essence, neural lace is a super-thin mesh that is implanted into the skull to form an array of electrodes able to monitor brain function. As of yet, we do not know how far this technology is, due to the secrecy around Neuralink, but other brain-machine interfaces have managed to control robots entirely with neural outputs. The proposed way to implant this neural lace is to fit it into a ball and insert it with a needle, after which it would fold out and rest on the brain. When tested on mice, this method of insertion was not found to cause any concerning side-effects.

The neural lace has been proposed for two main reasons: to provide medical solutions to those with cognitive disorders, and to counteract the AI problem. As we have discussed, the AI problem arises due to the vastly greater computing ability of artificial intelligence software, something which standard human brains cannot compete with. Neural lace would try to solve this be including native artificial intelligence at least as good as the public high-end. As for cognitive disorders, though this would integrate software with neural networks and the human brain, I struggle to see how this would replace normal brain function. Instead, I see a neural lace as an enhancement of the brain’s normal performance.

How does neural lace compare to a digital brain?

Neural lace vs digital brain utility

Neural lace is clearly a lot more limited than a digital brain. When you upload your brain and replace your biological body with an artificial body, you digitise all of your inputs, processes and outputs. In comparison, Neuralink’s technology only adds a digital software layer, but you would retain all of your biological organs and functions. As for utility, this means you are limited to improvements in technology to biology interfacing. You would be a whole lot smarter and you could gather information a whole lot faster, but you would miss out on many of the benefits of a fully digital brain. This includes software enhancements like fully simulated gaming and augmented reality and the hardware enhancements of the artificial body. You would also miss out on the vast customisation an artificial body would bring.


As far as the ideas a neural lace would address, it has the potential to do well there. Assuming it can be done, the technology would indeed vastly improve human intelligence and man to machine interfacing. However, all of this can be done by uploading your brain. If you were to upload your brain, any interfacing would naturally be easier as you are already working with computer software, thus removing the need for the brain implant layer. Of course, uploading your brain would be far further away in terms of the technology required to enable it, and many of the same concerns would be present. As for the idea of curing brain diseases, I am skeptical of a neural lace being able to do this but with a digital brain, damaged areas could be replaced with AI or a healthy copy of that version of the brain in some sort of software transplant.


In total, neural lace technology would be revolutionary for humanity, as would digital brain technology. I think uploading your brain would be a far superior technology but it’s still decades away from becoming a reality. As far as it goes with cognitive performance, it seems the same as with automobile electrification. With vehicles, the closer to a full battery electric vehicle (BEV) you are, the better the car is. The same is true of digital intelligence, with biological brains being the gasoline and digital brains being the BEV. The hybrid, neural lace, is better than the plain gasoline and can act as a stepping stone while the technology improves, but ultimately is not the end goal.

Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Loui Coleman

Author of Generation Byte

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Dre

    It’s not at all obvious that digital consciousness is even possible. It’s entirely plausible that what makes us conscious is not merely the functional brain activity, but also how it’s implemented. The brain is an largely analog system and so consciousness might require an analog computer such as the neuromorphic ones currently in early development.

    1. Loui Coleman

      At the moment nobody knows if it is possible or if we will ever discover how to do it. What we can look at is first-principles Physics. Ultimately, we are confident that the brain is just an arrangement of atoms and electrical signals. That gives some basis that a sufficiently advanced civilisation should be able to replicate the brain with near-100% accuracy. How we then keep such a save state operational is another matter, in which a neuromorphic computer may be necessary. I am confident that this is something that can be solved and given the pace of innovation and discovery that neuroscience is experiencing, I’d say it’s more than likely that we will achieve it this century.

  2. Dre

    Wouldn’t full dive VR be available for neural lace users as well?

    1. Loui Coleman

      Actually I do think you’re right. Fully simulated reality should be possible but it may be difficult to shut off all of the sensory data you receive from real life. At that point, you should probably be able to create a full digital copy of someone’s brain so the choice not upload your brain into a machine is a choice to not choose when you die. Neural lace may be able to achieve everything a digitally uploaded brain could but that would require every neural signal being cancelled exactly. To answer the question: yes, but with a lot of added effort.

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