Why Elon Musk is planting mind-reading chips in pigs and monkeys
Tesla mogul is on mission to enable humans to control computers with their brains
Elon Musk is well-known for his ambitious investments in the world of technology, but the colourful tycoon’s latest pet project may be his strangest yet.
The Tesla and SpaceX boss has announced that he is “one step closer towards designing a wireless chip that would allow humans to control a computer with their mind”, after wiring up a monkey’s brain to test if the primate can control a video game, The Times reports.
Musk’s company Neuralink has also installed mind-reading chips in pigs during experiments aimed at developing ways to connect human brains to machines.
“We have a monkey with a wireless implant in their skull with tiny wires who can play video games with his mind,” Musk said yesterday during a speech on social networking app Clubhouse.
“You can’t see where the implant is and he’s a happy monkey. We have the nicest monkey facilities in the world. We want them to play Mind Pong with each other.”
The announcement comes five months after Musk showed off a pig named Gertrude with “a coin-sized computer chip in her brain to demonstrate his ambitious plans to create a working brain-to-machine interface”, as the BBC reported at the time. When Gertrude ate and sniffed straw, the chip in the part of her brain controlling her snout recorded her neurological activity.
Musk “argues such chips could eventually be used to help cure conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries”, the broadcaster adds.
The entrepreneur has repeatedly warned that artificial intelligence may be humanity’s “biggest existential threat” if left unchecked.
Despite his ambitious goals, however, Musk’s experiments have sparked a backlash from animal welfare campaigners.
Peta has accused the world’s richest man of “cruelty” and says his claims of scientific breakthroughs in the field are “long on hype and short on evidence that what he’s predicting can actually happen”.