On Friday, August 28, Elon Musk gave the world a first look at his controversial new brain chip.
Musk described the new device as a ‘Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires,’ claiming it would one day be able to cure everything, from blindness to quadriplegia.
To show the development of the device, the billionaire introduced a pig named Gertrude, who he claimed had been implanted with the small computer.
“We have a healthy and happy pig, initially shy but obviously high energy and, you know, kind of loving life, and she’s had the implant for two months,” Musk said during a live stream from Neuralink’s YouTube page.
Musk founded Neuralink in 2016, with the idea of creating a wireless brain chip, which scientists hope will be able to cure a number of neurological conditions and allow people with paralysis to control a computer.
Then, last year, the tech mogul revealed his design for implanting tiny electrode ‘threads’ into the brain, in addition to another device behind the ear.
The brain chip unveiled on Friday appeared to be much smaller and slicker, as it does not require the visible ear device and would be implanted in the brain by a surgical robot under local anesthetic.
Musk also brought a second pig, called Dorothy during the live stream, explaining she also had one of the devices implanted, but it was later removed.
“What Dorothy illustrates is that you can put in the Neuralink, remove it, and be healthy, happy, and indistinguishable from a normal pig,” he explained.
While it appeared to be true on the face of it, Musk did not offer up any specific science or data to back it all up.
Even though the majority of the brain chip’s functions appear to be aimed at medical application, Musk stressed that he hopes the Neuralink devices will help human intelligence compete with artificial intelligence, which he considers to be an ‘existential threat’.
Musk spoke about the ambitious potential capabilities of the device, such as playing video games, summoning a Tesla, or even allowing someone with a severed spinal cord to be able to walk.
As of this writing, Neuralink employs around 100 people, but Musk said that could soon be as many as 10,000 as the company’s work develops.
Neuralink has raised more than $150 million in funding by far, including $100 million from the Elon Musk himself.