Elon Musk aims to test Neuralink brain chip on humans in 6 months
Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is seeking approval to test their brain chip on humans. On Wednesday night, the company disclosed updates to this innovation during a “show and tell” recruitment event. The startup is still waiting for its green light, and its target is within six months.
Musk and a group of engineers and scientists founded Neuralink in 2016. With a goal to link the human brain and computers that could figure out neural signals, it works to develop brain-computer advances.
The billionaire had invested a huge part of his wealth into this company. Although without evidence, he claimed that Neuralink’s devices could activate “superhuman cognition.”
He also said Neuralink could make paralyzed people operate robotic limbs and smartphones by just using their minds. Musk also hopes that someday they can solve schizophrenia and autism. The company’s presentation on Wednesday event revealed these high ambitions.
Elon Musk said that a wireless device developed by his brain chip company Neuralink is expected to begin human clinical trials in six months, allowing disabled patients to move and communicate again.
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Elon Musk confidently claimed that “as miraculous as it may sound, we’re confident that it is possible to restore full body functionality to someone who has a severed spinal cord.”
The Tesla and Twitter CEO says they have planned the chip implants with high hopes of curing paralysis. He announced an ambitious plan involving a revolutionary wireless device implanted in the brain. Musk hopes that it could potentially change the lives of disabled patients.
This device aims to help those suffering from physical obstacles to move and communicate again. While still in its developmental stages, the plans for clinical trials are already in place. Musk and his Neuralink team expect the trials to begin in just six months’ time.
Neuralink and its goals
Their presentation on the new applications included details about two applications. Both aim to restore vision for even those born blind. While the other application focuses to restore full body functionality for people with severed spinal cords.
Musk expressed confidence in this next step towards circumventing physical limitations, claiming there are “no physical limitations.” This development is certain to lead to increasing excitement and enthusiasm in the world of brain-computer interface advancements.
We are now confident that the Neuralink device is ready for humans, so timing is a function of working through the FDA approval process
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 1, 2022
Neuralink has been testing these chips on animals these past few years. All of the research and studies are ongoing. They are waiting for the FDA’s approval for human trials.
Elon Musk said, “We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human, but we’ve submitted, I think, most of our paperwork to the FDA, and probably in about six months, we should be able to upload Neuralink in a human.”
To get the public at ease with these new innovations, Musk is also planning to get one implant on himself. “You could have a Neuralink device implanted right now, and you wouldn’t even know. I mean, hypothetically. In one of these demos, in fact, in one of these demos, I will.” He posted a tweet about this following the event.
Despite this groundbreaking news, Xing Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, urged caution. Neither Neuralink’s products have been tested on humans nor cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It seemed prudent for Chen to warn that Neuralink’s proclamation should be met with a critical eye until more data is available.
She told CNBC, “Neuralink is a company; it doesn’t have to answer to shareholders. I don’t know how much oversight is involved. Still, I think it’s very important for the public to always keep in mind that before anything has been approved by the FDA or any governmental regulatory body, all claims need to be very, very skeptically examined.”
Elon Musk’s animal trials
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Last year, Musk shared a video of a monkey with a brain chip implant playing “telepathic video games.” Elon Musk said back then that he aimed to implant these chips in quadriplegics with spinal or brain injuries. This is for the purpose of “controlling a computer mouse, or their phone, or really any device by just thinking.”
After the video of the monkey circulated, Neuralink went under scrutiny for alleged animal maltreatment. n addition, on Wednesday, the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine called Elon Musk, requiring him to share the details of these monkey experiments. As it resulted in the animals’ paralysis, internal bleeding, seizures, chronic infections, deteriorating physical health, and death.
Neuralink’s approach has inflicted concerns from some medical professionals. Anna Wexler, an assistant professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that flashy presentations from a company in the medical devices space are unusual.
As a result, she cautioned against encouraging people with disabilities to have high hopes for Neuralink’s technology. They may be putting themselves in danger if there’s a need for surgery to implant it.
Wexler advised the public to be skeptical about the company’s big claims. She said, “From an ethical perspective, I think that hype is very concerning. Space or Twitter, that’s one thing, but when you come into the medical context, the stakes are higher.”
Brain-Computer Devices’ Repercussions
According to Chen, whose specializations are brain-computer interfaces, subjects would undergo a very intrusive procedure. Doctors need to make a hole in the skull to insert the device into the brain tissue. However, despite these precautions, Chen thinks some people would be willing to try.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink project aims to implant computers into human brains within the next 6 months 🤯‼️ pic.twitter.com/ANBZtdaCUl
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Chen said, “There’s quite a few disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s and obsessive-compulsive disorder in which people have received brain implants, and the disorders have been treated quite successfully, allowing them to have an improved quality of life. So I do feel that there is a precedent for doing this.”
Moreover, Neutralinks isn’t the only company developing innovations using brain-computer interfaces. Its competitor Synchron is also creating a microchip that would enable patients with paralysis to communicate through a brain-computer interface device. Synchron has successfully done studies and trials on four people in Australia.