Elon Musk continues to develop his Neuralink chip designed to create a human-machine interface. Much more than a simple medical project, this innovation has high ambitions and has just been tested on a pig.
But will humans soon have a chip implanted in their brain? Does Elon Musk really mean to turn us into cyborgs with his Neuralink?
- But what is Neuralink, Elon Musk’s new “fad”?
- A not-so-revolutionary medical project
- But many possible applications
- Tests on sows … while waiting for humans
But what is Neuralink, Elon Musk’s new “fad”?
Already known for its companies Elon Musk Tesla and SpaceX . But he is also the head of the start-up Neuralink , whose goal is to create an interface between man and machines.
At the end of August, the “controversial genius” presented a prototype of his chip. He intends to create a “neural lace”, a connected chip which currently measures 23 mm in diameter and 8 mm in thickness. This wireless model uses Bluetooth technology and charges overnight. It contains over 3,000 electrodes capable of monitoring the activity of 1,000 neurons in the brain.
However, the latter is very complex and the studies will undoubtedly still be very long.
A not-so-revolutionary medical project
Neuralink aims to promote the healing of neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s disease , speech disorders, lesions of certain nerves resulting in paralysis … In the latter case, a second chip could be implanted on the spine to treat lesions of the spinal cord. We would then have communication between the machine and the two chips in order to re-establish signal transmission and full mobility.
The main implant is installed in the brain and incorporates technologies not very far from those of connected watches or a Fitbit bracelet . Its installation is “benign”, according to Musk, and would be carried out by an automated robot.
If Neuralink seems out of a science fiction film, this technology is not fundamentally new to neuroscience. Implants are already being used in the brain for bionic prostheses and there is a non-invasive human-machine interface that allows prostheses to be controlled via a sensory mechanism without an implant.
Elon Musk’s device is not in itself revolutionary but it is about Elon Musk and the publicity around his actions is enormous. In addition, he intends to recruit as many specialists as possible to advance his project.
But many possible applications
The South African entrepreneur has a medical goal, but he does not stop there. He believes that we must remain competitive against AI and that this Neuralink chip could have other applications such as memory storage, video game control, etc.
It is supposed to achieve a symbiosis with AI , put an end to extreme pain, heal depression and addictions. In the longer term, Neuralink could even “fight” artificial intelligence which could end up destroying the human race … just that!
Tests on sows … while waiting for humans
Elon Musk presented his project implemented with three sows:
- Joyce does not have an implant and is used for comparison;
- Gertrude has had a prototype chip for two months and the AI can predict some of those moves.
- Finally, Dorothy had an implant that was removed. It proves that Neuralink is harmless and that the project is reversible.
The sow equipped with an implant in the area of the brain that manages smell lets you know that she is sniffing and anticipating her movements. On her treadmill, Gertrude shows that the chip transmits her neurological signals. The computer can then instantly predict where each of its members will be.
The prototype presented is only a reading device but the goal is that it also provides writing skills to solve many neurological problems.
The challenges remain numerous and Elon Musk wishes to attract specialists in large numbers. To achieve a possible Augmented Man, many problems will have to be resolved such as the protection of the chip against any internal or external disturbance. In short, the robot man, it’s not yet for tomorrow…