Just as we thought 2020 couldn't have been weirder, here is more. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's neuroscience startup Neuralink on Friday unveiled a pig that has had a coin-sized computer chip in its brain for two months, demonstrating an early step toward the goal of curing human diseases with the same type of implant.
Musk brought along three pigs, who had varying levels of interest in cooperating. The audience was shown real-time neural signals from one of the pigs, named Gertrude.
Launched in 2016, the start-up said it is designing tiny flexible 'threads' that are 10 times thinner than a human hair with the goal of treating brain injuries and trauma, along with someday enabling symbiosis between humans and artificial intelligence.
According to the venture's presentation last year, the design has been tested on at least 19 different animals with robots with around an 87% success rate. Musk described it as "like a Fitbit in your skull."
The company claims that installing a chip to replace a small portion of the human skill, for instance, could restore limb function, improve human movement, resolve issues with eyesight and hearing, and help with diseases like Parkinson's.
Musk said Neuralink is currently focused on different conditions including memory loss, blindness and paralysis. He said the process of "getting a link" will not require general anesthesia and hoped that a robot will do the entire surgery in about an hour. The people who get the Neuralink device are left with a tiny scar after the electrodes are inserted in the brain if done well, Musk said, adding that there won't be any blood.