The human brain has 86 billion neurons and Elon Musk has pioneered a way to wirelessly interface with them.
Recently, the technology of Neuralink, co-founded by Musk, was successfully unveiled in a pig named Gertrude. By implanting a coin-sized computer chip into the brain, Musk believes that the brain-machine interface of Neuralink will one day be able to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer's, dementia, and paralysis due to spinal cord injury.
"We place electrodes near neurons in order to detect action potentials," Neuralink explains on their website. "Recording from many neurons allows us to decode the information represented by those cells."
With brain implants capable of measuring specific neural activity, this presents a multitude of exciting possibilities of how this technology could be implemented to help people moving forward.
"In a lot of ways," Musk said during the unveiling, "it's kind of like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires."
After the reveal presentation, the topic emerged during a Q&A regarding why a pig was used. "Pigs are actually quite similar to people," Musk explained. "If we're going to figure out things for people, then pigs are a good choice." He then added, "If the device is lasting in the pig, as it lasted in there for two months and going strong," which is how long Gertrude had the working implant before the presentation, "then that's a good sign the device is robust for people."
The Neuralink device consists of a probe containing over 3,000 electrodes attached to tiny threads, at this point capable of monitoring 1,000 neurons. According to Musk, the goal is to increase the number of recorded neurons, first by a factor of "100, then 1,000, then 10,000."
Musk believes that Neuralink will eventually have the potential to help solve conditions such as Alzheimer's, dementia, paralysis, hearing loss, depression, and insomnia.
No official start date of implantation in human brains has been offered yet, though that is the plan as Neuralink looks ahead to the future.
In addition to being co-founder of Neuralink, Musk is CEO of Tesla,