Musk then drew the audiences attention to three pigs in a nearby pen, which was cared for by a keeper nearby. One of the three pigs had no implants in their brains, while the second had a neuralink device called link, which had been previously implanted but later removed. The brain activity of these enhanced pigs can be wirelessly transmitted to nearby computers, allowing viewers to see the neuronal activity of the animals as musk touches the pigs nose.
During the event, musk talked about the potential of the technology to address brain damage and other diseases. Neurons are like wires, and you need an electronic device to solve electronic problems, he said He predicted that future link implants would be able to preserve and replay memories, adding that it obviously sounds more and more like the scenes in black mirror, but its not an unfounded prediction.. He even said that it is possible to download the memory into the robot.
Although the device demonstrated is just a reading device that receives signal data from the pigs brain, neuralinks plan is to provide read and write functions, with the goal of being able to solve the neural problems mentioned above. Musk also stressed that the reason he showed pigs that had safely removed implants was that he planned to provide hardware updates over time, as better versions emerged. In the end, musk said neuralink wanted to reduce hardware costs to within $1000, in line with other modern wearable devices.
For the four-year-old start-up, the demonstration aims to show that neuralinks brain computer interface technology is moving towards the goal of safe implantation into the human body, possibly helping people with various debilitating diseases, and opening the door to a range of wild science fiction scenes. Among them, musk once said that music can be transmitted directly to someones brain.
It is this ambition that could transform neuralink from an expensive research project into a consumer electronics company, which could justify the $158 million it has invested so far, most of it from musk himself.
The first major disclosure of neuralinks plans and technologies was at a similar event in San Francisco in July 2019. At the time, musk demonstrated an early version of the neuralink implant and revealed that the company had tested it in mice and primates to record and analyze animal neuronal activity through tiny electrodes placed in the animals brain.
The main argument raised by musk and other neuralink employees is that existing technologies are too dangerous, cumbersome or limited in function to be widely used. Todays most powerful implants require people to undergo high-risk surgery, and patients often only experience the benefits of this technology under the supervision of doctors and experts. In addition, the implants may have a short life span because the brain treats the device as an intruder, forming scar tissue around it and disrupting electrical signals. Neuralink, on the other hand, is trying to create an implant closer to a consumer electronics device that is smaller, cheaper, has less impact on brain tissue and can process more brain data.
For the past few months, neuralink has been putting devices 22.5 mm in diameter and 8 mm thick in pig brains. There is a computing chip on the hardware. There are 64 tiny threads hanging on it with sensors at the end. During the operation, the animals were taken to the operating room at the Fremont facility where they were anesthetized before surgeons performed craniotomy.
Once a part of the skull is removed, the robot begins to put threads into specific parts of the brain so that sensors can be close to neurons and can read clear signals of brain activity. This process takes about 30 minutes, because the robot uses computer vision software, high-end cameras and other technologies to align threads with precision. Musk is not satisfied that the whole process took so long, Max hodak, President of neuralink, said in an interview
In pigs called Gertrude, its hard to see any sign of implants or surgery. The pig, whose wound was fully healed, hopped around in a temporary metal fence in neuralinks office, just like other pigs without implants. But when Gertrude was fed carrots or rubbing his nose, a huge computer screen behind him lit up to show that his neurons were activating and responding to touch. Next, Gertrude farted, which the researchers thought was recognition of interaction.
But the controversial nature of animal experiments and the popularity of its founders have made neuralink the focus of criticism by animal rights activists. The company said the subjects were taken care of by animal husbandry experts and limited testing of primates. To demonstrate the safety of its technology, neuralink has removed implants from some animals and found them back to normal life without significant adverse effects, the company said.
In some cases, neuralink has successfully implanted two implants in animals, simultaneously obtaining signals from both hemispheres of the brain. The company also managed to not only read brain activity, but also send signals to electrodes and stimulate the brain. All of these studies were conducted in neuralinks 4645 square meter Park, which includes robot assembly, chip and thread manufacturing, and animal husbandry.
Neuralink once planned to use an implant and another device placed behind the ear to handle things like wireless communications. Now, however, it has tied everything to a small device. Its easier, hodak said The implantable battery can last about 24 hours and can be charged wirelessly like a smartphone. Over time, neuralink wants to reduce the size of the device while improving its computing power.
Musk has previously said neuralink hopes to conduct human trials as early as this year. Of course, this requires regulatory approval and technical safety. This years human trials are something were willing to do, hodake said. This is obviously a matter that cant be done in a hurry. We can do it when we are ready. Although we cant sell it to you as a commodity, its starting to feel more like a product, more specific. Now, we have a Fitbit for the brain.
Holdak denied recent media reports, saying former neuralink employees had revealed that the company might travel to other countries for human trials because of more relaxed regulation. Weve never discussed anything like this, hodake said Neuralink has been awarded breakthrough device status by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that the agency will respond faster to neuralink filings than before, but it does not mean that human trials have been approved.
Musk tried to highlight the health benefits of this BCI technology. People with debilitating diseases are most likely to take the risk of trying brain implants first, because they can get huge benefits. For example, people who have suffered a stroke and are unable to speak can simply think about what they want to say, and then their thoughts can be spoken out loud on a computer or typed onto the screen.
Of course, musk also sees the potential for future applications of these implants, such as the ability to create high bandwidth links between people and machines. In the matrix, you may be able to download and learn a language or martial arts immediately, musk says. The ultimate goal, at least for musk, will be to help humans keep pace with the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI). If you cant beat them, join them, Musk said earlier this year, describing neuralinks mission The first clinical trial will focus on patients with paraplegia or quadriplegia caused by cervical spinal cord injury. The plan for the first trial is to recruit a small number of such people to test the effectiveness and safety of the technology. (small) musk demonstrates brain computer technology with live pigs. Source: Netease science and technology report editor in charge: Ding Guangsheng_ NT1941
The first clinical trial will focus on patients with paraplegia or quadriplegia caused by cervical spinal cord injury. The plan for the first trial is to recruit a small number of such people to test the effectiveness and safety of the technology. (small)