When he’s not working on sending rockets to Mars or building electric cars, Elon Musk is putting computer chips into pigs.
Specifically, his company Neuralink is experimenting with a brain implant that could one day help people cure neurological conditions.
To that end, they’ve implanted one of these chips into a pig called Gertrude and used them to record data about how brain signals are interpreted by body movements.
According to Musk, who gave a live demonstration involving Gertrude last week, the subject is ‘healthy, happy and indistinguishable from a normal pig’.
He described the Neuralink device – which resembles a coin with wires dangling from it – as a ‘Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires’.
The sensor is able to predict the animal’s limb movements with a high degree of accuracy while running on a treadmill, the company revealed.
It operates through more than 3,000 electrodes attached to flexible threads thinner than a human hair. These can monitor the activity of 1,000 brain neurons and Neuralink is currently talking to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about pressing forward with human trials.
Musk believes that in the short-term, Neuralink devices could help cure conditions like Parkinson’s, dementia and neurological damage caused by spinal cords injuries.
In the long-term, things get a bit more science fiction-y. The billionaire believes the implants could provide what he calls ‘superhuman cognition’ that could rival artificial intelligence and prevent machines from taking over the world.
‘The merge scenario with AI is the one that seems like probably the best. If you can’t beat it, join it,’ he told podcast host Joe Rogan last year.
You can watch the whole demonstration with Gertrude below.
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