Human Brains Get Wired: Elon Musk’s Neuralink Cleared for Trials

Human Brains Get Wired: Elon Musk’s Neuralink Cleared for Trials

Elon Musk, the innovative entrepreneur behind SpaceX and Tesla, has reached yet another milestone with his brain-machine interface startup Neuralink. The company recently announced that it has successfully implanted a device into its first live human subject after navigating a series of rigorous approval processes.

Neuralink’s success in this venture is significant as it marks the commencement of human testing for a technology that, if successful, could revolutionize the way humans interact with devices. According to Neuralink, their technology will enable users to operate devices such as phones using only their thoughts. Furthermore, this technology has potential applications in treating neurological diseases.

Musk recently revealed via a post that the company had completed the implantation process on its first human subject, who was reportedly “recovering well.” He further claimed that the initial results showed “promising neuron spike detection,” indicating the device’s ability to detect the subject’s neural activity.

This announcement, which has not yet been independently verified, comes several months after Neuralink received FDA approval to commence human clinical trials. In a blog post, the company outlined that the aim of the first human trial is to evaluate the safety of both the device and the surgical robot used to implant it. The trial will also test the device’s capacity to read and decode neural activity.

While Musk has been known to make bold promises regarding his companies’ milestones, it’s important to note that FDA standards for protecting human subjects in medical trials are stringent. Despite social media skepticism stemming from well-documented tech failures at Tesla and SpaceX, Neuralink’s transition to human trials signifies compliance with these rigorous standards.

Founded by Musk and a team of neuroscientists in 2016, Neuralink aims to develop and market an implantable brain-computer interface device. This “cosmetically invisible” device comprises a wirelessly rechargeable lithium battery, small computer chips, and other electronic components.

Human Brains Get Wired: Elon Musk's Neuralink Cleared for Trials

A surgical robot, akin to a sewing machine equipped with cameras, sensors, and an ultra-thin needle, implants the device into the brain. The device has been marketed as a potential treatment for neurological diseases and injuries.

However, Musk envisions Neuralink serving a broader purpose: augmenting human biology and integrating it with machines and artificial intelligence. He announced that Neuralink’s first product, “Telepathy,” would enable control of phones or computers, and by extension, almost any device, through thought alone.

Neuralink has demonstrated its device’s capabilities in animals, specifically a nine-year-old macaque named Pager. According to the company’s demonstration, Pager was able to manipulate a computer cursor using only brain signals. The primate was also shown playing a version of the arcade game Pong, apparently using only its mind1.

Despite these successes, Neuralink has faced criticism surrounding allegations of animal mistreatment and potential exposure of humans to infectious pathogens through contaminated hardware.




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