Cyborg Pigs: The future or a fad

Elon Musk's August 28 live demo of Neuralink raises as many questions as it may have answered.

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John-Paul Henry, Forest Simon, Maximalfocus, Kevin Long '21

Are cyborg pigs the tech from the future or just a fad?

Human symbiosis with computers. Sounds like the work of science fiction right? Well if you believe Elon Musk, that is the reality of a not so distant future.

Elon Musk is known for making bold claims but not so much for his ability to follow through on his promised schedule. Depending on who you ask, his vision for the future is either a pipe dream or the next big thing.

Before we get into the viability of Musk’s vision, let’s take a look at what Neuralink is promising for the near future.

Probably the biggest focus of the August 28th presentation was on the potential Musk believes brain implanted chips have for the future, not on the actual demonstration of the present capabilities. In the future Musk claims that this technology could help with a wide variety of problems including blindness, deafness, paralysis, memory loss, and strokes.

 

 

The company promises that implanting the chip and corresponding threads in your skull is perfectly safe. They are in the process of building a robot to help the neurosurgeon complete this process since they say that “the threads on the Link are so fine and flexible that they can’t be inserted by the human hand.”

While Neuralink has ambitious goals that Musk claims are all possible sometime in the not too distant future, the demonstration has received mixed reviews from those in the neuroscience community.

In a statement to Inverse regarding the recent demonstration, Ralph Adolphs, Bren Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology at California Institute of Technology, remarked that the achievement was “tremendously exciting” and as “a huge technical advancement.”

Still, others are doubtful it is “solid engineering, but mediocre neuroscience,” said Professor of Neural Interfaces at Newcastle University of the demonstration.

 

 

While this demonstration update provided us with an interesting look into some of the progress the historically secretive company has made in the past months, real human trials seem to be many years away at this point so we won’t be able to conclusively determine if this really is our future or is just another one of Elon Musk’s wild projects.