Elon Musk showcases his Neuralink’s AI-powered brain implant in live pigs
A little over a year ago, Elon Musk announced his new ambitious project called Neuralink that seeks to connect human brains to a computer. Neuralink is a product that can make anyone superhuman by connecting their brains to a computer. Musk said that Neuralink would increase the data rate between the brain and computers and will give humans a better shot at competing with AI.
In July 2019, Elon Musk held a live-streamed presentation at the California Academy of Sciences where he detailed Neuralink’s plans for the first time. During the press conference, the Neuralink team showcased a future technology that could help people deal with brain or spinal cord injuries or controlling 3D digital avatars.
The proposed future technology involves a module placed outside the head that wirelessly receives information from thin flexible electrode threads embedded in the brain. The system could include “as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads” each 4 to 6 μm in width. The threads would be embedded by a robotic apparatus, with the intention to avoid damaging blood vessels.
Just a few days ago, the hype about Neuralink rose to a fever pitch when Musk promised a real demonstration of a Neuralink device. On Wednesday, Musk said the company will demonstrate “Version 2” of the machine that would be used by the company to embed implants into the brain. And the day finally arrived today. The demo includes three pigs: 1st without a Neuralink chip, 2nd that previously had one, 3rd that has had one for two months.
The Neuralink’s device is called Link V0.9. It is a very small device and just 23 x 8 mm and is implanted directly in the upper cranial cortex, with surgery that, according to Musk, can be performed in less than an hour and without the need for general anesthesia.
The Link V0.9 device has a multitude of sensors, temperature, pressure, six-axis accelerometer, and promises to charge for the whole day, with charging by induction when necessary. Its main function is to record and transmit information in real-time from brain neurons to a computer, with its 1,024 electrodes (channels), for its interpretation and study.
The Neuralink product demo started at 3 PM Pacific Time. During the demonstration, Musk showed the uses and applications of Neuralink with three pigs implanted with Link V0.9 chips. Musk told the audience that the implementation would one day be able to cure affectations of the human body such as blindness, brain damage, and cure addictions.
Finally, Musk also mentions that he is working with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, for its acronym in English), the agency in charge in the United States of regulating food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, among other things, which points to that human clinical trials are a latent possibility.
The coolest part of Neuralink’s demonstration is the surgical robot that will carry out the implantation of the chip in the skull. This is the same version 2 of the robot presented last year. The robot is capable of “sewing” the 1,024 5-micron-thick electrodes into the cranial cortex, to connect with the brains of users.
According to Musk, this “robot-surgeon” is capable of carrying out implantation surgery in less than an hour and avoiding blood vessels, meaning that during the process not a single drop of blood will be shed.
Below is a live stream (replay) video.