How a chip works in a pig’s brain – know-how from Elon Musk


The head of the startup Neuralink held an online presentation of the neural interface and the robot for its implantation. The event was attended by experimental animals, the main of which was a pig.

Musk planted a pig

Elon Musk spoke in some detail about a miniature (2.3×0.8 cm) chip, which has wires thinner than a human hair and fits under the wearer’s skin at the same level as the skull. Perhaps the greatest pride of the developers is not the size of the chip, but the throughput and ease of use of thin and flexible wires that do not touch blood vessels and, unlike rigid needles, practically do not cause damage.

The audience in the studio watched with particular curiosity the pigs that were in the pen behind Musk’s back. However, after the demonstration, Neuralink introduced energetic animals. He paid special attention to the pig Gertrude, in whose skull an implant was implanted. Every time she found food, bursts of her brain activity were displayed on the screen.

Another pig, which had a similar chip integrated earlier, was also present at the science show . Over time, the chip was removed, presenting to the public and viewers a living and healthy pig as confirmation of the harmlessness of the technology.

The operation to implant the chip takes less than an hour, Musk said.

By the way, about the device. It has 1024 channels to transmit information from neurons. Built-in wireless transmitter, IMU-sensor (accelerometer + gyroscope), pressure and temperature sensors, rechargeable battery (its charge lasts for a day, powered by a magnetic charger).

Another trick or a sensational experiment?

It is no secret that Musk is a very ambitious figure, demonstrating high results and achievements in various fields. The successes of his car company Tesla, and even more so of SpaceX Corporation, do not give rise to doubt about the seriousness of his intentions.

The neurointerface he has demonstrated is so far only a reading device that provides data from the pig’s brain. But the very fact of its existence is already a great achievement.

Earlier, Musk stated that the next logical stage in human development is the symbiosis of digital and biological intelligences. And the experiment described above is a successful start.

What will happen next?

In the near future, the chip is expected to be implanted into the human body. Most likely, this will happen at the end of this year or early next year. The approval of all authorities is required for this type of operation. The heroes of the first clinical trials will be people with paralysis of the lower or upper limbs, as well as with complete or partial paralysis resulting from damage to the cervical region.

In addition to paralysis, he hopes to solve the problems of hearing loss, vision and memory, insomnia, depression, anxiety, severe pain, seizures, addiction, etc. People with disabilities will be able to freely use their phones and computers. It will also be possible to monitor the health of patients and warn them about the approaching heart attack.

In the long term, it is planned to create a chip that can restore absolute mobility to people with significant spinal cord injuries.

A successful experiment on implanting a neurointerface into a pig’s brain opens up great prospects for humanity . And thanks to this, really effective methods of treating various serious pathologies that are poorly amenable to therapy at present can be found very soon.



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