Innovation

Musk Reads: Neuralink's big reveal

Neuralink releases new details and SAOCOM takes off. Also: What's happening with Starlink?

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Neuralink releases new details and SAOCOM takes off. Also: What’s happening with Starlink? It’s Musk Reads: Neuralink Edition #199.

Coming soon: Keep an eye out for a special anniversary edition of Musk Reads to celebrate number 200!

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk quote of the week

“On a species level, it’s important to figure out how we coexist with advanced AI, achieving some AI symbiosis.”

Neuralink

It’s here. On August 28, Musk gave a rare update on his human-brain linkup firm, Neuralink. During the livestream event, the company outlined its technological advancements with a demonstration involving four pigs. Two of the pigs had Neuralink implants, dubbed “Links,” which measured about the same size as a large coin, at 0.9 inches wide and 0.3 inches tall. These “version 0.9” devices use sensors to detect brain temperature, pressure, and other features. The Links would have “all-day battery life,” using an inductive charging system similar to a smartphone.

Neuralink’s initial focus is on medical applications, looking at how its technology could help with neurological conditions. Musk explained that the chips are a marked improvement over the existing Utah Array, which comes with a risk of infection and hardware coming out of the wearer's head. But over the long term, Musk reiterated that he wants to develop a means of creating a symbiotic relationship between humans and artificial intelligence. Wiring up human brains to computers, Musk reasons, could be a step toward that future. Read more.

SpaceX

Liftoff! SpaceX launched the SAOCOM 1B mission on August 31. The mission marked the first time SpaceX completed a polar launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. That means the rocket flew south along the East Coast. The Falcon 9 booster used in the mission successfully landed at Landing Zone 1 after completion, the booster’s fourth successful landing.

The Starship, SpaceX’s giant rocket in development, has a packed couple of months ahead. Musk revealed this week that work started on the Super Heavy booster designed to lift the giant ship away from Earth. This booster may complete a hop test before SpaceX’s next event, which Musk suggested will take place in October. If all goes to plan, an orbital launch could take place in 2021, potentially clearing the way for Musk’s ambitious goal to send the first cargo ships to Mars by 2022. Read more.

Those giant ships will have to take off from the ocean in the future. Last week, Musk explained that the Starship will have to take off from ocean-based spaceports located about 20 miles away from shore to avoid creating too much noise. These spaceports could link up to nearby cities using the vacuum-sealed hyperloop pod transport system, as outlined by Musk in 2018. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch the 12th batch of Starlink satellites on September 3 at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time. The mission will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Musk Reads mailroom

Adrian Cann writes:

I, like thousands of my friends, are desperate to know how the beta process is going on with Starlink. Any information is like giving food to a starving man. Obviously, I live out in the sticks of Washington, so I’m looking at Starlink as my savior.

Keep your eyes peeled on the Starlink subreddit’s list of speed tests. The community-updated list shows you what sort of speeds people are experiencing during the beta test. Also don’t forget to keep watch for the Starlink satellites as they pass overhead.

Rudy Garcia writes:

Very interested in seeing a SpaceX launch or hop tests in SPI [South Padre Island] facility in Texas. Can you recommend a preferred viewing location? I live in Texas, hence my specific viewing location request.

YouTube account “SPadre,” which posts regular footage from South Padre Island, shared some top tips in February 2019. The island will be the best place to see launches from Boca Chica, as the area itself will be closed on launch days. Isla Blanca Beach Park, located at the southern tip of South Padre Island, may be your best bet. Just keep in mind that although the two locations are close on the map, the drive from Boca Chica to South Padre Island can take an hour!

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

Photo of the week:

Falcon 9 and the Moon.

Falcon 9.SpaceX/Flickr

Got any photos or videos you’d like to share? Feel free to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: Neuralink Edition #199, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

What did you think of today’s stories? Email us or tweet me to let us know. Thanks for reading!

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

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