Futuristic entrepreneur Elon Musk demonstrated his Neuralink startup’s advances in networking the brain and computers late Friday, saying the work is essential to the future of humanity.
Musk has long argued that having a neural spike that fuses the mind with the machines is vital if humans are to avoid being overtaken by artificial intelligence to the point where humans would be like “house cats” under the best of circumstances.
“It will be important from an existential threat point of view,” Musk said of the project.
“In my opinion, that is the most important thing that such a device achieves.”
Team members shared a “wish list” that ranged from technology bringing mobility back to the paralyzed and blind, to enabling telepathy and uploading memories for future reference – or perhaps downloading to replacement bodies.
“Yes, I think you can save and play memories in the future,” said Musk.
“Obviously this is starting to sound like a ‘Black Mirror’ episode, but I think they’re pretty predictive,” he quipped, referring to a Netflix series that is giving twisting twists and turns to technology of the near future.
Neuralink is currently being tested on pigs. The team is working on the potential for clinical trials.
A trio of pigs in stalls took part in the demonstration: one of them named Gertrude reportedly had a Neuralink device implanted that is wired to detect spikes in nerve activity in their snouts.
Gertrude happily focused on the food, mostly ignoring Musk and others who had gathered for the event.
According to Musk, since the first version of Neuralink was released a little over a year ago, the device has been simplified and reduced to about the size of a large coin and the thickness of the skull.
With the help of a surgical robot, a piece of the skull is replaced with a Neuralink disk and its whisker wires are strategically inserted into the brain, as the demonstration showed.
According to Musk, the hard drive registers nerve activity and forwards the information to a device such as a smartphone via a general Bluetooth radio signal.
“It actually fits very nicely in your skull. It could be under your hair and you wouldn’t know.”
The aim of the event was to attract talented engineers to the project, which, according to Musk, still has a lot of work to do with chips, software, robotics and much more.
Experts and academics remain cautious about his vision of symbiotic fusing minds with super power computing.
Brain-computer interfaces have been used many times and it is difficult to say how successful the Neuralink project will be, according to Christopher James, professor of biomedical engineering at Warwick University.
While the technology for reading information from the brain has improved, researchers say it’s not up to snuff when it comes to sending it back to all the required parts at the same time.
When moving arms or legs, the brain sends the right signals, while when hearing and seeing, the brain receives sensory information.
“What would impress me?” James asked before the Neuralink demonstration.
“Real-time control of complex actions / movements – repetitively and without errors (oh, and being able to move something while doing something else, like talking or whistling or whatever!)”
The Neuralink was named a “breakthrough device” by US regulators last month, and the team is making headway toward clinical trials, according to Musk.
According to the team, Neuralink engineers put in encryption and other protective measures to prevent data from being stolen or implants from being hacked.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)