KARACHI: CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk has recently been working towards developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. Neuralink, founded by Musk in 2016, had been working towards its product since 2019 and arranged for a live stream on August 28 to update users about their progress. The virtual event also aimed at hiring more employees for the neuroscience startup.
Hosted by Elon Musk, the demo went fairly well as compared to the demonstration for Tesla’s Cybertruck which had left the creator embarrassed on stage. Initial designs of the technology involved a small device which could be worn around a ear, but has evolved into a more subtle gadget which replaces a small part of the skull and can easily be covered up by hair. “Our goal is to solve important brain and spine problems with a seamlessly implanted device,” shared Musk.
The coin sized implant is like ‘a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires’ and can prove beneficial for people with neurological conditions. Implanted by a surgical robot, the device communicates with brain cells with 1,024 thin electrodes that penetrate the outer layer of the brain. It is then linked to an external computing device via Bluetooth. The device can be charged the same way that a smart watch or phone is charged.
During the demo, Musk introduced a pig, Gertrude, who he said had a small computer implanted inside her brain. “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,” explained Musk. On the other hand was Dorothy, a pig who had the device implanted and then removed. “What Dorothy illustrates is that you can put in the Neuralink, remove it, and be healthy, happy and indistinguishable from a normal pig”, thus proving that there are no side effects of the technology (on animals at least) and that the device does not have to be a permanent means.
Elon Musk is confident that ultimately, the Neuralink product will be able to help a paralyzed individual get back in motion, and also allow humans to play video games or summon a Tesla, all with the use of a single device.