The mind reader of Neuralink, a company of Elon Musk, implanted a chip the size of a coin into the brain of a pig on Friday. With the ambitious project, Musk hopes to be able to capture neuronal activity from the chip carrier, so that computers can be controlled by just thinking.
The implantation of the chip in the pig, named Gertrude, could be followed live via a webcast from the company Neuralink. The pig was one of three animals that participated in Neuralink’s experiment. After the chip was implanted, her brain activity was immediately visible on the screen.
Neuralink’s mind reader uses threads that are thinner than hair to pick up brain activity. Because these are flexible, they should be less risky than current brain implants. Neuralink already submitted a request for human trials last year, but is still awaiting permission.
The company hopes to be able to use the chip in the short term to help people with specific conditions, such as dementia, Parkinson’s and spinal cord injury. In the long term, people should be able to create a ‘superhuman condition’ in combination with artificial intelligence (AI).
Playing pong by thinking alone
Existing devices already make it possible to send simple computer commands to the brain. In 2006, a paralyzed man was able to play the game of Pong that way after days of practicing. Neuralink says its technology supports much higher bandwidth than existing devices, allowing more information to be exchanged.
The company says it is still looking hard for new staff to help with the mind reader project.
Neuralink was founded in 2017 by Musk, who often sets up companies with big ambitions with Tesla, Hyperloop and SpaceX.