In a much-anticipated livestream event to introduce product demo of Neuralink brain implant since the company first launched it in summer last year, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled pigs with brain implants on Friday.
Introducing Gertrude, one of the pigs that had a device recording signals from an area of the brain linked to her snout. Musk said: “We have a healthy and happy pig, initially shy but obviously high energy and, you know, kind of loving life, and she’s had the implant for two months.”
He also described Gertrude’s coin-sized implant as “a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires”.
Neuralink is a brain-machine interface technology that allows a device, like a computer, to interact and communicate with a brain. Neuralink, in particular, aims to build an incredibly powerful brain-machine interface, a device with the power to handle lots of data that can be inserted in a relatively simple surgery.
Its short-term goal is to build a device that can help people with specific health conditions. Some of the health conditions that neuralink promises to help in the future are memory loss, hearing loss, blindness, paralysis, depression, insomnia among more neurological problems.
“We’re making good progress towards clinical studies,” Musk said, adding Neuralink received breakthrough device designation from the FDA in July, which provides an expedited pathway for approval.
“In the future, you’ll be able to save and replay memories,” Musk said. “This is increasingly sounding like a Black Mirror episode,” he added.
Last year, Musk said he hoped to start clinical trials in people in early 2020. The first clinical trials will be in a small number of patients with severe spinal cord injuries.
But the most important thing the device might be able to do, Musk said, would be to let people achieve what he calls “AI symbiosis,” which allows the human brain to merge with artificial intelligence.
“Such that the future of the world is controlled by the combined will of the people of Earth — I think that that’s obviously gonna be the future that we want,” he added.
In his recent podcast with Joe Rogan, Musk also points out that in 5 years, humans could communicate without talking but by just exchanging electronic brain signals using Neuralink.
With the advancement of AI and biotech we can now forsee into the future where humans will be symbiotic with machine, as much as it sounds like a plot of sci-fi hollywood movie. Musk himself quoted: “The future is going to be weird.”