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‘Three Little Pigs’ demonstrate Neuralink’s brain implant

With grudging assistance from a trio of pigs, Neuralink co-founder Elon Musk showed off the startup’s state-of-the-art neuron-reading brain implant and announced that the system has received the Food and Drug Administration’s preliminary blessing as an experimental medical device.

During today’s demonstration at Neuralink’s headquarters in Fremont, Calif., it took a few minutes for wranglers to get the swine into their proper positions for what Musk called his “Three Little Pigs demonstration.”

One of the pigs was in her natural state, and roamed unremarkably around her straw-covered pen. Musk said the second pig had been given a brain implant that was later removed, showing that the operation could be reversed safely.

After some difficulty, a third pig named Gertrude was brought into her pen. As she rooted around in the straw, a sequence of jazzy electronic beeps played through the sound system. Musk said the tones were sounded whenever nerves in the pig’s snout triggered electrical impulses that were picked up by her brain implant.

“The beeps you’re hearing are real-time signals from the Neuralink in Gertrude’s head,” he said.

Eventually, Neuralink’s team plans to place the implants in people, initially to see if those who have become paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries can regain motor functions through thought alone.

Musk said the implant received a Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA last month. That doesn’t yet clear the way for human clinical trials, but it does put Neuralink on the fast track for consultation with the FDA’s experts during preparations for such trials.

Neuralink has received more than $150 million in funding, with roughly two-thirds of that support coming from Musk himself. Today he said the venture had about 100 employees. He expects that number to grow. “Over time, there might be 10,000 or more people at Neuralink,” he said.

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Elon Musk’s COVID-19 tweets get a reality check

Billionaire Elon Musk knows his stuff when it comes to rockets or electric cars. But does that translate into epidemiological expertise? Not completely, according to Washington state’s coronavirus trackers.

Musk weighed in today with a Twitter response to a GeekWire story that focused on Washington’s rising number of COVID-19 cases as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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Elon Musk starts another catfight with Jeff Bezos

Another tweet, another catfight: Billionaire CEO Elon Musk has once again accused super-billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos of being a copycat.

This time, Musk took aim at Amazon’s $1.2 billion acquisition of Zoox, a venture focusing on self-driving cars that could compete with Tesla, the car company that Musk heads.

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Trump tweets support for Elon Musk and Tesla

Tesla car factory
Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif., became the focus of a coronavirus conflict. (Tesla Photo)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s dispute with county authorities over the reopening of the company’s California car factory was injected into President Donald Trump’s Twitterstream today.

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Elon Musk says there’s nothing to fear from Starlink

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk discusses Starlink and Starship during a fireside chat at the Satellite 2000 conference. (Via Satellite / Access Intelligence via YouTube)

Will SpaceX’s Starlink broadband satellite constellation ruin astronomy? Will it threaten the telecom industry? Will SpaceX spin out Starlink anytime soon?

SpaceX’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, answered all three questions today at a fireside chat at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, D.C.: No, no and no.

The session started late, and Musk seemed a bit tired — perhaps because he’d just come from working on SpaceX’s Starship super-rocket development project, which is taking shape at the company’s Boca Chica test facility in south Texas. Nevertheless, his fans rushed into the conference hall and hung on his every word.

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Elon Musk touts Starlink satellites for U.S. military

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium. (USAF via DVIDS)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took a rare deep dive into the workings of his company’s Starlink broadband satellite operation in Redmond, Wash., today at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Florida.

He also put in a pitch for robotic fighter jets … and for Starfleet Academy.

The discussion of Starlink satellite development came during a nearly hourlong fireside chat with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles.

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Donald Trump pays tangled tribute to Elon Musk

President Donald Trump is said to be closely watching the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, but he’s also watching what billionaire techie Elon Musk is doing at SpaceX and Tesla — and he likes what he sees.

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Tesla’s Cybertruck rollout shatters expectations

Elon Musk at Cybertruck rollout
Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck, which sported cracked windows after a demonstration of the truck’s toughness. “Don’t mind the glass,” Musk said. (Tesla via YouTube)

Amid clouds of smoke and “Blade Runner” hype, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a hard-edged, all-electric pickup truck that will cost as little as $39,900 and is due to hit the market by as early as 2021.

And then, with hundreds of fans cheering him on, Musk brought out one more thing during his laser-show presentation at Tesla’s design center in Los Angeles: an all-electric, all-terrain vehicle that rolled right into the Cybertruck’s bed for recharging from an onboard outlet.

There’s no sign that the ATV is for sale … yet … but Tesla is already taking refundable $100 deposits for the Cybertruck.

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Elon Musk lays out fast and furious plan for Starship

Starship and Falcon 1
SpaceX’s Starship Mk1 prototype stands alongside a first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket, which had its first successful orbital launch in 2008. If you look closely at this picture from SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility, you can see people to the left of the Starship rocket. (SpaceX via Twitter)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk set a revved-up timeline tonight for testing and building a fleet of Starship rocket ships that he says would eventually take people on trips to the moon, Mars and other deep-space destinations.

Standing in front of SpaceX’s newly constructed Starship Mk1 prototype at the company’s South Texas facility, Musk said he expected the first 12-mile-high test flight to take place in a month or two.

His timeline called for building up to four more versions of the super-rocket and conducting the first orbital launch within six months. The next version, dubbed Starship Mk2, is already taking shape at SpaceX’s Florida facilities.

The first crewed orbital mission could take place as early as next year, Musk said.

In the past, even Musk has acknowledged that his timelines tend to be overly optimistic, but tonight he suggested that’s a feature, not a bug.

“If the schedule’s long, it’s wrong,” he told a crowd of journalists, employees and fans. “If it’s tight, it’s right.”

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Elon Musk tweets sneak peek at Starship vision

Starship Mk1
Members of SpaceX’s team in Texas use cranes to add rear moving fins to the Starship Mk1 prototype. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is talking up his Starship Mk1 prototype super-rocket in Texas, less than a week in advance of an eagerly awaited update on his plans for Starship trips to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Today’s sneak preview came in a flurry of tweets addressing some of the finer design points for Starship Mk1, which looks like a silvery silo equipped with rocket fins as it sits at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in South Texas. The 30-foot-wide, roughly 150-foot-tall prototype — and a similar Mk2 structure taking shape at SpaceX’s site in Florida — are meant to blaze a trail for an even bigger two-stage rocket, with the pointy-ended Starship sitting atop a Super Heavy first-stage booster.

During a live-streamed presentation that’s set for Sept. 28 at the Boca Chica site, Musk is expected to discuss plans for testing and flying the Starship system over the next few years.

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