Billionaire and tech visionary Elon Musk unveiled a mind-reading brain implant at an event in California last week.
Several pigs are now walking around with a “neuralink” in their brains, enabling their brain activity to be transmitted wirelessly to a nearby computer.
Musk believes that the neuralink technology can help people cope with brain injuries and other disorders. 'The neurons are like wiring, and you sort of need an electronic thing to solve an electronic problem," he said.
“In a lot of ways, it’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull, with tiny wires.”
He has said that he would like to begin human trial as early as this year.
Musk has tried to stress the health benefits of neuralink. People who suffer from brain damage could benefit dramatically. A stroke victim who is unable to speak could simply think and their words could be said aloud by a computer or typed onto a screen.
The end goal would be to help humans keep pace with artificial intelligence.
He believes that the implant procedure will initially be very expensive but the price will eventually drop to "a few thousand dollars.
Customers will be able to update their human versions. "You would not want version one of a phone and 10 years later everyone has version three or four," Musk said. "It will be important to remove the device and upgrade it over time."
Musk believes that the project has enormous commercial potential. Neuralink currently has 100 employees, but he believes that it will eventually grow to 10,000.
Neuralink has become a focus for criticism from animal-rights activists, although Musk assures them that the pigs are being treated properly.
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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