Neuralink: Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk on Friday revealed a pig whose brain says he has been implanted with a small computer.
“We have a healthy and happy pig, initially shy but obviously high-energy and, you know, what kind of loving life, and he had a two-month transplant,” Musk said about Gertrude, the Pig said in.
The billionaire entrepreneur, whose other companies include Tesla and SpaceX, posed during a live-stream event to recruit employees for his neuroscience startup Neuralink. He described Gertrude’s coin-shaped implant as a “Fitbit in your skull with small strings”.
Musk co-founded Neuralink in 2016 with the goal of creating a wireless brain-machine interface, with some scientists hoping it could help fix neurological conditions and allow paralyzed people to control the computer mouse and more.
In July 2019, Neuralink unveiled a design that involved inserting small electrode “threads” into the brain as well as another device behind the ear. The new device Musk described on Friday is very small, does not require a visual ear device, and will be implanted into the brain by a surgical robot under local anesthesia.
The device is removable, Musk said, and he showed another pig, Dorothy, to whom he claimed one of the devices was implanted and later removed. “What Dorothy shows is that you can put in Neuralink, remove it, and be healthier, happier, and indistinguishable from a normal pig.”
Although the near-term practical applications of most wireless brain-machine interfaces are medical, Musk has also expressed the desire that such devices can help combat human intelligence with artificial intelligence, which he considers an “existential threat”. At Friday’s event, the entrepreneur made several external claims about the technology’s potential capabilities, including whether it could be used to summon Tesla, play video games, or allow a person with a severe backbone to walk again. is.
Musk did not present any scientific data to support his claims about pigs or equipment.
Neuralink has raised more than $ 150m in funding, including $ 100m from Musk himself. Musk said the company employs about 100 people, but could soon expand to 10,000.
Musk also said that Neuralink acquired the FDA Breakthrough Device designation in July, a program that could help speed up the regulatory process for products “that provide for more effective treatments or diagnoses for life.” Or diagnoses irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions ”. Such a designation does not mean that the device is approved by the FDA.
Neuroscience experts say that while Neuralink’s mission is possible to read and stimulate brain activity in humans, the company’s timeframe seems overly ambitious.
“Everyone in the field would be very impressed if they actually showed data from a device implanted in a human,” said Graeme Moffat, a University of Toronto neuroscience researcher.
Small devices that electronically stimulate the nerves and brain regions to treat hearing loss and Parkinson’s disease have been implanted in humans for decades.
Neuroscientists have also performed brain transplant tests with a small number of people who have lost control of physical functions due to neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries or strokes. In those tests, humans could control robot organs or small objects, such as a computer keyboard or mouse cursor, but have not yet completed many sophisticated tasks.
Much of the current state-of-the-art research at the brain-machine interface is conducted on the animal, scientific notes, with safety challenges and lengthy human approval processes that prevent large human trials.
In particular, Musk, who has been a source of misinformation about coronavirus in recent months and fought to keep his factory open during the epidemic, did not wear a face mask during his presentation, living in a room with dozens of employees Despite, a camera crew and veterinary staff. He eventually put on a mask during a question and answers session.