We finally get a look at the current status of Elon Musk’s Neuralink project courtesy of a live performance on Friday. The demo showed a new look for the device, a glimpse of the robot that would set it in a person’s brain, and a pig with stage fright.
What is Neuralink? What does it do
As Musk pointed out, many neurological problems that people experience – such as memory loss, depression, blindness, and seizures, to name a few – are the result of improperly firing electrical signals on the brain. Neuralink is a transplant that directly interferes with a person’s brain, reads signals from the brain, and even alters them to correct problems.
It is essentially a “fitbit in your skull with small strings”, Musk explained.
The original concept for Neuralink was a chip located behind the ear, with threads extending across the skull. The design has changed considerably, and the device now looks like a small coin.
According to Musk, when you install a neurlink, they take out a small piece of your skull and move the neurlink inside, where it will sit flush with the skull (no electronics jerking out). About 1 / 20th the thickness of electrical threads extend into the brain where they can pick up or connect electrical signals.
For many potential Neuralink users, undergoing brain surgery may make them uncomfortable, but the company is not only building the chip, but also has a robot to install it. The robot will ideally handle the most difficult aspects of surgery, which Neuralink expects will take within an hour and be done without general anesthesia.
The device has “all-day” battery life, and can be recharged without cords.
Three small pigs demonstrate that it can be removed
Although the device is not yet ready for human test subjects, the company is experimenting on animals, and has brought something to demonstrate the safety of implants.
The Neuralink team ejected three pigs: a brain untouched by a neurlink, one with a neurlink that was subsequently removed (to demonstrate that you could eject one without negative consequences), And Gertrude, a pig that is currently Neuralink. Established. It took Gertrude a few minutes to caress from behind the curtain, but once she did, Musk showed that the pig was still behaving normally, as well as a look at the signals being transmitted from the implant to a screen Is putting
After the performance, the Neuralink team answered some questions about the device. They are currently limiting the project to a benign surface, but eventually plan to deliver it to deeper parts of the brain, where the device can improve vision, for example.
The first clinical trial is aimed at patients with spinal cord injuries such as paraplegia, but the device may also have accidental applications one day, such as allowing users to play Starcraft through their mind. Musk even said that one day people will be able to save and recreate memories, possibly even downloading them into a new body.
In the past, we have wondered if these chips would be unsafe for hackers who could steal brainwashed data. The team also assured the audience that security is important and that brain data will be properly encrypted, so it is expected that there will be no point for hackers in the coming years.
For the price, Musk thinks it will be quite expensive at first, but as time goes by, he hopes to reduce it to just a few thousand dollars.