Elon Musk Demos Latest Neuralink Brain-Computer Interface Technology on Pigs

Image Credit: Neuralink via TechCrunch

Neuralink Brain-Computer Interface Technology on Pigs

Musk’s brain-computer interface company Neuralink held a launch event to unveil an actual working Neuralink Brain-Computer device and an automated implantable surgical device.

Image Credit: Neuralink via TechCrunch

Elon Musk used a pig named Gertrude to demonstrate the latest state of the art in his startup Neuralink, which can create digital links between the brain and a computer, otherwise known as a ‘brain-machine interface'”. the wireless connection on the Neuralink device shows the pig’s brain activity as he sniffs around a pen on stage Friday night.

Neuralink Progress Update

Neuralink Brain-Computer Interface Technology

Neuralink’s demonstration this time shows that the brain-machine interface technology is much closer to realizing Musk’s ambitions than it was when the product debuted in 2019 when it showed only one photo of Neuralink connecting a mouse’s neurons via a USB-C port, which is one step closer to realizing the brain-machine. The interface is still very far away. But Musk said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July approved the testing of “breakthrough devices”.

Image Credit: Neuralink via TechCrunch

Musk also showed off the second-generation device, which is more sophisticated and can fit into a small cavity cut out of a hole in the skull.

Musk said of the device, “It’s like a Fitbit that fits in your skull with little wires on it. “The device can communicate with brain cells via 1024 thin electrodes that penetrate the brain cells. There’s also a Bluetooth connection to an external computing device. But the company is working on other radio technologies that it hopes will significantly increase the number of data connections.

Image Credit: Neuralink via TechCrunch

Medical purposes of Neuralink Brain-Computer

Neuralink is first focused on medical treatments such as helping people deal with the brain and spinal cord injuries or congenital defects. The technology could help paraplegics who have lost the ability to move or feel due to spinal cord injuries, and Neuralink’s first application in the human body would be to improve the lives of those who experience paraplegia or quadriplegia.

“If you can feel what people want to do with their limbs, you can have a second implant where the spinal cord was injured and create a nerve shunt,” says Musk. “In the long run, I’m confident that I can restore a person’s full-body movement.”

But in fact, Musk’s ideas are far more radical, including “consensual telepathy,” where two people can communicate digitally by thinking about each other rather than writing or speaking. Neuralink’s long-term goal is to build a ‘digital superintelligence ‘layer’ that connects humans with artificial intelligence. In Musk’s view, artificial intelligence is a threat to human existence.

The most extreme future

Speaking about the sci-fi uses of Neuralink, Musk said, “The future is going to be strange. In the future, you will be able to save and restore memories. You can take your memories as a backup and then restore them. You can download them into a new body or a robot body.”

Musk said he is well aware of the problems some would point out with Neuralink. Musk said, “This is sounding more and more like an episode of the anti-utopia TV show Black Mirror.”

Neuralink is working on a robotic mounting program that is ultimately designed to handle the entire surgical installation process. This involves opening the scalp, removing a portion of the skull, inserting hundreds of 6mm-deep “threaded” electrodes along with an accompanying chip, and then suturing the incision. The device is designed to avoid blood vessels to avoid bleeding, according to Musk.

As with the Fitbit, Apple Watch, and other wearable technologies, Musk believes the neural link has health benefits beyond direct brain-machine communication. The Neuralink chip can measure temperature, pressure, and movement, and that data can warn users before a heart attack or stroke, according to Musk.

Previous work by Neuralink

Since its launch last year, Musk and Neuralink have published a scientific paper in the October issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The paper describes the development of their robotic device, a robotic arm capable of finely inserting hundreds of tiny threads (about a tenth of a human hair) into the brain. Sometimes referred to as a “sewing machine,” it can insert six threads per minute, each made of flexible plastic and equipped with 192 electrodes.

Neuralink’s early research focused on connecting to the brains of rodents. In a paper published in October, Musk and Neuralink detail two neural network systems, A and B, tested on rats that can insert more than 1,500 electrodes and more than 3,000 electrodes. The paper describes a free-moving rat attached to the B system with a USB-C slot in its head, but there is no clear indication that Neuralink has determined the best place to place the electrodes.

In the paper, Musk and Neuralink acknowledge that “significant technical challenges must be addressed before high-bandwidth devices are suitable for clinical applications.”

The rodent research is impressive, but what caught people’s attention last year was Musk’s assertion that monkeys “can control computers with their brains. “The paper published in JMIR provides no evidence to support that assertion, and Musk did not mention it this Friday.

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