Tech mogul Elon Musk has just released a working copy of the Neuralink chip. A device similar to a “Brain Fitbit”, that will link your mind to your mobile or PC
Elon Musk always trying to make something groundbreaking possible is not something too striking, most of the population already knows how the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, OpenAI or Hyperloop does it. The South African tycoon is behind some of the most futuristic ideas of the moment (at least among those that dream of being commercialized), but his latest invention may be the most difficult yet: he wants to connect your mind to your computer through the microchip that works without wires. That is the project of his Neuralink brand and, as shown today, it may be closer to achieving it than it seems.
Musk, accompanied by several pig ‘testers’ and some members of his company, has just presented at an event in San Francisco an operational copy of a microdevice that, if the authorities and development allow it, may soon begin to test in humans (received approval from the US FDA last July). The businessman has shown how this little “Fitbit-brain with cables” would work in a real way, as Musk himself has defined it, in one of our brains.
Obviously, its operation cannot be known for sure until they have the first human ‘testers’, but it has shown the actual size and key operation of the device: what information it will give, how it will collect it and what it will show. Pulling three small pigs, Musk and his team have shown how their invention is capable of detecting the brain activity of these animals by writing all the history in real-time and detecting from which part of the brain these impulses come from.
The few attendees of the event (all wearing a mask and keeping their distance) have had their greatest gesture of surprise when they saw how when Gertrude’s snout, one of the three main pigs, touched different objects, a series of points and a series of noises indicated that was going through a lot of brain activity. Pigs have a large part of their brain dedicated to the snout, a sensitive sensory instrument, and that caused Gertrude’s device to notice a great deal of agitation as this animal began to sniff.
The device detection capability becomes the great surprise of the night. A kind of constant mental monitoring that, according to the folks at Neuralink, could be key to curing even diseases such as human blindness, memory loss or the different problems of paralysis. Far from the initial idea of being able to achieve a total union between the computer and the human brain, something that Musk was talking about only a year ago, it seems that the magnate’s close goal is to turn this piece into a sensor that keeps you up to date, and your doctors, how your brain is doing.
To achieve all this, the patient will need to undergo a “small operation” of no more than an hour and that will not require hospital admission or general anaesthesia with which the skull is pierced and the small Link V0.9 is placed. A device the size of a coin, just 23 x 8 mm, that is implanted directly in the upper cranial cortex and that is attached to the brain through tiny flexible cables, four times thinner than a human hair, that serve as sensors to the processor.
All the surgery is carried out by a ‘weaving robot’ developed by Neuralink itself, that sews the sensors to your brain.
For those interested in this ‘gadget’, Musk has not yet talked about the price range, but he has detailed its characteristics. Specifically, the ‘Brain Fitbit’ has a battery that lasts for about a day and charges wirelessly at night without the need for a charger. In addition, it connects to computers and other devices without cables using Bluetooth Low Energy to guarantee the security and privacy of the system and has a range of 5 to 10 meters.
Nowadays, when everyone wears ‘smartwatches’ or activity wristbands and monitor all their vital signs from their mobile, why would they not want to control their brain? Musk has even talked about ‘apps’ from which to control these constants and study how your mind works.
However, the tycoon keeps looking high and has assured that despite what is shown today, in the future it could be possible to download your memories into the body of a robot. “Obviously this sounds more and more like an episode of Black Mirror, but hey, I guess they’re pretty good at predictions.” Do not forget that the main reason for this demonstration is to recruit staff in that company that, according to information, is in great chaos.