photo de Elon Musk presentant l'implant neuronal neuralink

Neuralink: Elon Musk creates a cybernetic pig

In July 2019, the famous billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk announced the trial of his Neuralink brain implant on humans. But for now, it is a pig named Gertrude who has had the honor of being the guinea pig for the new brain-machine interface prototype. An extraordinary experience that many were able to enjoy thanks to a live broadcast on YouTube.

It made the buzz over a year ago. Elon Musk, famous CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, presented the brain-machine interface for the first time. The principle consists of merging the cognitive capacities of humans with those of AI, by which we understand “artificial intelligence”. A trial on humans has also been announced.

On August 29, the American entrepreneur presented the improved version of his device during a live on YouTube. The experience brought together several million spectators. But this time, scientists will not yet touch a human brain, but that of a sow, little Gertrude. According to Musk, a chip has been implanted in an area of ​​Gertrude’s brain for two months.

During this live, the pig is placed on a treadmill. And each time its snout is in contact with its feeder, the chip transmits synaptic signals to other devices. This data will be used automatically and the interface will then be able to predict, at any time, the location of the animal’s limbs. A small step that has all the makings of a big one, because it gives hope to paraplegic people.

Neuralink: a brain implant?

A modified version, yes, because at first glance the design of the V2 presents some changes compared to the first model. While V1 was a module installed near the ear, this one consists of a chip the size of a coin. And according to Musk, it is “a Fitbit implanted in your skeleton using tiny cables”. The device can also be connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

The brain-machine interface project is not new, since several entrepreneurs have tried it. However, to date, it is Musk’s startup that has made the greatest progress. Compared to existing prototypes, the Neuralink device stands out for the thinness and flexibility of its cables. These are covered with electrodes to collect as much information as possible. According to Elon Musk, it will not be necessary to be hospitalized for several days to implant the chip. The operation will last less than an hour and will leave no trace, except a scar on the scalp.

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You’re probably wondering why Musk is going to such lengths to present his prototype. In reality, just like last year, this is a process to recruit 10,000 people within the startup Neuralink. Indeed, for the entrepreneur, the seduction operation is important to attract talent.

As a reminder, the American entrepreneur co-founded Neuralink in 2016 with the aim of creating a wireless brain-machine interface. An instrument intended to help scientists cure neurological diseases. In the future, this chip could also be used to monitor the user’s health and issue an alarm if they suffer a stroke. The technical team also mentioned that the interface could help paralyzed people regain mobility. The idea is to place the implant in the spine.

Elon Musk: in the race towards “AI symbiosis”

While most wireless brain-machine interfaces are created for medical purposes, Musk’s projections go well beyond that. During the live, the American entrepreneur expressed his true wish. Its device will not only serve to help people in need, but above all, to ensure that human intelligence can surpass artificial intelligence. Indeed, Elon Musk considers AI as an existential threat and advocates transhumanism. And we can no longer count the disproportionate arguments he put forward to support his words.

Of course, the trial on human beings is still in the planning phase. However, the process seems to be on track. According to Musk, the FDA has given it the “Breakthrough Device” designation. This program should accelerate the development process of its device.

Like many, we hope that the startup receives FDA approval and can soon test the effectiveness of the chip on the human brain. In the meantime, those who want to try it must already save money, because the price of such an object is not cheap. Indeed, Elon Musk warns that his Fitbit may “cost a little expensive”. However, the price of the device will drop over the years.