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RESIDENT EVIL: Elon Musk Unveils Brain Computer Implanted in Pigs

Once part of the pigs' skull has been removed, they are implanted with a computing chip on top with 64 wires that dangle off it with sensors that can read brain activity signals.

ASHLEE VANCE: During an event at Neuralink’s headquarters in Fremont, California, Musk found himself hanging out with a passel of Yucatan swine. Several of them had previously undergone a surgical procedure in which a robot placed the latest version of Neuralink’s computing implant into their brains. As a result, the brain activity of these enhanced pigs could be transmitted wirelessly to a nearby computer, allowing onlookers at the event to watch the animals’ neurons fire as veterinarians stroked their snouts…

Over the past couple of months, Neuralink has been implanting pigs with a device that’s 22.5 millimeters across and 8 millimeters thick. The hardware has a computing chip on top with 64 minuscule threads—or wires—that dangle off it with sensors at the ends. During the procedure, the animals are taken to an operating room at the Fremont facility and anesthetized before a surgeon performs a craniotomy on them. Once part of the skull has been removed, a robot begins placing the threads into specific parts of the brain so that the sensors are close to neurons and can read clear brain activity signals…

Musk spoke enthusiastically at the event about the potential for the technology to address brain injuries and other disorders… For the four-year-old startup, this demonstration was meant to show that Neuralink’s brain-machine interface technology is progressing toward a day when it could be safely put into humans, possibly aiding people with a wide variety of debilitating conditions while also opening the door to a host of wild, sci-fi scenarios. The event naturally veered into a free-wheeling discussion of where this type of research could go. Some Neuralink employees joined Musk on stage and talked about their desires to get rid of pain, to give people super vision and to explore the nature of consciousness…

The first major reveal of Neuralink’s plans and technology came in July 2019 during a similar event in San Francisco. At that time, Musk showed early versions of Neuralink implants and disclosed that the company had already been performing tests on mice and primates in which it was able to record and analyze the animals’ neuronal activity via tiny electrodes placed in their brain… But the controversial nature of animal testing and the celebrity of its founder has made Neuralink a magnet for criticism from animal-rights activists. The company said the test subjects are cared for by animal husbandry experts and that it’s limiting testing on primates…

Neuralink has been granted “breakthrough device status” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which means the agency will respond more quickly to the company’s filings than it would have previously but doesn’t constitute an approval for testing in humans… Musk had previously said that Neuralink would like to conduct human trials as early as this year. This, of course, would require regulatory approvals and assurances that the technology is safe. SOURCE…

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