The project has already applied for human trials, with aims to begin this year if it’s approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Neuralink has begun animal experimentation in the meantime, beginning with a pig named Gertrude. One of three pigs seen in the webcast, Gertrude eventually began prodding straw and chowing down as her brain activity — including neural action in her snout as she sought food — was transmitted to a live graph.
“It’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires,” Musk explained. The coin-sized chip will eventually fit “quite nicely in your skull,” he said. “It could be under your hair and you wouldn’t know.” Neuralink’s implant is in development to allow people with neurological conditions to control computers or phones with their brainwaves alone and Musk posits that it could one day aid in the battle against afflictions like dementia, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries.
Eventually, Musk foresees the technology yielding “symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” although he claims that “it’s not like suddenly we will have this incredible neural lace and will take over people’s brains.” This long term goal ties into Musk’s fear that artificial intelligence could one day grow too powerful to be controlled by humanity.
“Even in a benign AI scenario, we will be left behind,” said Musk. “With a high bandwidth brain machine interface, we can go along for the ride and effectively have the option of merging with AI.”
Watch the official livestream of Musk’s Neuralink presentation above.
Meanwhile, the rabid community of Tesla owners has recently gathered in support of a “Tesla Dating” app.