Dear Commons Community,
On Friday, Elon Musk presented (see video above) a working demo of his latest technology moonshot, a new kind of implantable chip for the brain. And he did, but it wasn’t with a human subject: Rather, it was with a pig named Gertrude. As reported by CNN.
The presentation came a year after Musk first introduced his plan for a new kind of implantable computer chip. Last July, he sketched out a vision of a computer chip connected to extremely slim wires with electrodes on them, which would be embedded in a person’s brain by a surgical robot. The implant would connect wirelessly to a small, behind-the-ear receiver that could communicate with a computer.
Musk says he hopes the implant could one day help quadriplegics control smartphones, and perhaps even endow users with a sort of telepathy. Like existing brain-machine interfaces, it would collect electrical signals sent out by the brain and interpret them as actions.
The demo, which Musk had teased on Twitter by saying it would “show neurons firing in real time” and was mainly a recruiting effort to attract new employees, included more details about the implant Musk eventually hopes to implant in people’s brains. He said the company scrapped the idea for a behind-the-ear receiver in favor of a fully embedded implant about the size of a coin that would be placed below the skull — a plan that sounds more invasive than what Musk unveiled last summer. He showed off a prototype of this so-called Link, which he said would include many of the sensors in your smartphone, such as a six-axis interial measurement unit and temperature and pressure sensors. The device uses Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with a computer.
The demo also featured the second version of a surgical robot that Musk introduced last July, which is meant to insert the Neuralink implant into the brain.
There have been less than enthusiastic reviews of Musk’s demo mainly because he used a pig instead of a human being but many medical breakthroughs begin with animals such as rats and monkeys. I believe that Musk or someone else will deliver an implantable brain chip. The critical question is not whether but when?