The expected conference to present Neuralink, Elon Musk’s startup to connect the human mind to smartphones, PCs and Artificial Intelligence, took place near a pigsty. And the fourth richest man in the world, as a gentleman he is, introduced Gertrude, a nice little pig who for two months had an implant in her pig brain. A cluster of 1,024 microelectrodes ten times thinner than a human hair and a module the size of a dime. Gertrude, eating, walking on a treadmill, drinking from a bottle, sent signals to the brain that were read in a display.
To play down the idea of the imminent birth of new generations of cyber humans Elon Musk said: “It’s like having a Fitbit in your skull”.
How much will an implant cost? “We are in the first Neuralink generation, there will be the second and third edition.
The cost at the start will be high, but by scaling the number of pieces, the price will drop to cost a few thousand dollars including surgery to implant “.
Can you also drive a Tesla with thoughts? “Of course, the visionary entrepreneur replied, pointing out that all of his companies, from Space X to Solar City, aim for a five-star offering in revolutionary markets that often ignore oil culture.”
Beyond possible scenarios in which a hacker can enter the transmission system and whose thought makes the veins and wrists tremble, the closest applications illustrated by Elon Musk, are addressed to the resolution of various pathologies.
Memory recovery will be possible in patients who lose it due to serious illness or accidents. In addition, in the case of a fracture of the spine, the Neuralink team of 90 people, but with projections that speak of 10 thousand workers at regime, is preparing to implant a module in the brain and a receptor after the fracture point to rehabilitate the motion functions.
Elon Musk also speculates on the cure for depression. And as in the Black Mirror TV series, the plant, which is specifically called “The Link”, will be able, says Musk, to save and review their memories. Human and artificial intelligence will connect in a “symbiotic” system.
The business model of Neuralink, which is based in the historic Pioneer building in San Francisco, according to analysts seems confusing and still to be focused. Also on social media there are stories of exploitation and bestial rhythms in the work to implant “The Link” in the skulls of mice and pigs.
“The FDA is clearing our interventions; by the end of this year there will be first experiments on people who have neurological problems, ”Musk smiles.
In short, we have to wait to know if this startup will follow the same path as Tesla which today is worth 400 billion dollars and excels among the high category cars but which has had a very difficult life and long periods of colossal losses.