Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Elon Musk gave the world a progress update on his brain-machine interface startup Neuralink on Friday, showcasing a small implant that can read and transmit the neural activity of a pig.
Why it matters: The Neuralink implant still has yet to be tested in human beings, but it's part of a wave of brain-machine interface technologies that aim to address neurological diseases and injuries, and eventually directly link human brains to the internet.
What's happening: In an online event, Musk showed the Neuralink device — roughly the size of a quarter — implanted in a pig's brain, where it was able to read some neural signals in real time.
The next generation of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) seek to translate brain signals into useful data or even use them to manipulate machines.
What's next: As BCI technology improves, it could enable truly transformative applications that merge humans and machines — especially for the military, as a report released this week by researchers at the RAND Corporation outlines.
The catch: For any of the more ambitious uses of BCI to become a reality, scientists will need to figure out how to implant connections in the brain that can last for a decade or longer — most current versions corrode in a few years — and that can function effectively outside a lab.
The bottom line: Like all the most important emerging technologies, BCI poses two questions: Can it be done? And should it be done? We shouldn't forget the second while figures like Musk focus on the first
Source: AXIOS Future
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