'Black Mirror': Musk successfully tests brain-to-computer chips - ForumDaily
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'Black Mirror': Musk successfully tested the chips that connect the brain to the computer

On August 28, American businessman Elon Musk showed the world a live pig with a microprocessor implanted in its brain, writes Air force.

Photo: Shutterstock

Introducing Gertrude the pig during a live webcast, Musk compared the 23x8mm microchip implanted in her to a Fitbit fitness bracelet, “which sits in your head with tiny wires.”

During the experiment, Gertrude sniffed various objects, and the signals from her snout went to the microprocessor and were recorded on the graph presented to the guests.

The goal of this project, which is being developed by Musk's company Neuralink, is to create a wireless brain-computer interface, which would later make it possible to treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia, cope with insomnia, and would also enable paralyzed people to control a computer with the power of thought. .

The ultimate goal of these experiments, as stated, is to combine the capabilities of artificial intelligence and the human brain.

The story of the three pigs

Musk called his performance a “three little pigs demonstration,” saying that all three had two tiny implants implanted in their brains under local anesthesia by a surgical robot.

These implants do not require any external source at the auricle, as was the case with an earlier prototype that Neuralink showed off in July 2019.

Moreover, it is a reversible operation as a new implant sample can be removed.

As a demonstration, Musk presented another pig, Dorothy, who, he said, had a similar chip installed earlier, but was subsequently removed with no apparent health effects.

“What Dorothy shows is that you can put a Neuralink chip inside, then remove it, and be healthy and happy, completely indistinguishable from other normal piglets,” the entrepreneur said.

Photo: video frame YouTube / Neuralink

“I could have this Neuralink installed and you wouldn’t even know it. Maybe so,” Musk said.

He did not present any specific scientific calculations about these experiments. However, one of the scientists involved in this project said during the presentation that this microchip implanted in the brain will allow better reading of the waves of electrical activity of the brain and, accordingly, a better understanding of the nature of neurological diseases.

Meanwhile, a number of scientists have noted a huge leap forward in terms of microchip size, compatibility, portability and remote control capabilities, compared to the prototype presented last July.

At the same time, the ideas developed by Elon Musk's company are not new.

For several decades, small devices that stimulate nerve endings and certain areas of the brain have been implanted in patients with complete hearing loss or Parkinson's disease, as well as those who, after a spinal injury, have lost the ability to control basic body functions.

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How achievable are great designs?

Musk stressed that his webcast is not a fundraiser, but aims to attract new people to the project.

Founded in 2017 in San Francisco, the startup Neuralink is heavily recruiting, as Musk tweeted in July. Musk also warned that a demonstration of the company's new achievements will take place on August 28 with a series of tweets.

Neuralink has been testing brain-computer interfaces since last year as part of Musk's ambitious plan to give people superhuman abilities.

To begin with, the development should allow patients with motor and speech problems to control a computer and smartphone with the power of thought. In the long term, it gives rise to what Musk calls the “era of hypercognition.”

Photo: video frame YouTube / Neuralink

The human mind must merge with artificial intelligence, he says, including in order to prevent in the future a situation when the latter will become more powerful than a person and destroy him.

The device the company is working on is a tiny microchip containing more than three thousand miniature electrodes attached to movable filaments thinner than a human hair.

Each of them is capable of reading information from thousands of neurons in the brain.

A little over a year ago, the company announced that it had successfully tested a monkey that was able to mentally control a computer.

It has also created a “neurosurgery robot” that the company says can insert 192 electrodes per minute into the brain.

“Neuralink has significant resources and, most importantly, a team of scientists, engineers and doctors focused on one goal, giving them a high chance of success. However, creating medical technology is a long process, and safety has to come first, so I suspect the process will take longer than they promise,” says Jennifer Collinger, a professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Ari Benjamin of Pennsylvania State University told the BBC that the brain's incredible complexity could be a stumbling block for the new technology.

“Once they learn how to capture information, they will have to decipher it. And here they may hit the barrier of our fundamental ignorance of how the brain works, regardless of the number of neurons from which they record. It is difficult to interpret goal and motor commands without understanding the neural code by which they are transmitted,” he noted.

Photo: video frame YouTube / Neuralink

Musk's SpaceX and Tesla have sparked people's imaginations with their innovations in space travel and electric transportation.

However, the entrepreneur is also known for his habit of making bold statements about projects that in the end prove to be more difficult to implement than advertise.

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