Elon Musk’s brain-chip firm says it has received approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to conduct its first tests on humans.
The Neuralink company wants to help restore vision and mobility to people by linking brains to computers.
It says it does not have immediate plans to start recruiting participants. Mr Musk’s previous ambitions to begin tests came to nothing.
The FDA said it acknowledged Neuralink’s announcement.
According to a report, An earlier bid by Neuralink to win FDA approval was rejected on safety grounds.
What Exactly Is Neuralink?
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk in 2016. The company aims to develop implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) or brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to enhance human capabilities and potentially enable a symbiotic relationship between humans and artificial intelligence (AI).
Neuralink hopes to use its microchips to treat conditions such as paralysis and blindness, and to help certain disabled people use computers and mobile technology.
The chips – which have been tested in monkeys – are designed to interpret signals produced in the brain and relay information to devices via Bluetooth.
The goal of Neuralink is to create devices that can be implanted in the human brain to establish a high-bandwidth connection between the brain and external devices or computers. This technology could potentially be used to treat neurological disorders, restore sensory functions, or enhance cognitive abilities. Musk has expressed concerns about the potential risks of AI and believes that developing interfaces that merge human and AI intelligence is a way to address those risks.
Neuralink has been working on developing a small, implantable device called the “Link” that consists of tiny, flexible electrode threads and a custom-designed chip. These threads are thinner than human hair and are intended to be implanted into specific regions of the brain to detect and stimulate neurons. The chip, known as the “N1 chip,” acts as a bridge between the brain and external devices, enabling data transfer.
The long-term vision of Neuralink is to create a product that is safe, effective, and affordable for widespread adoption. While the company has made progress in developing the technology, it’s important to note that as of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Neuralink had not conducted human trials, and the technology was still in the research and development phase.
Experts have cautioned that Neuralink’s brain implants will require extensive testing to overcome technical and ethical challenges if they are to become widely available.
A paralysed man from the Netherlands was able to walk simply by thinking about it – thanks to a system of implants which wirelessly transmit his thoughts to his legs and feet.
The company – which was co-founded by Mr Musk in 2016 – has repeatedly overestimated the speed at which it can execute its plans.
Its initial aim was to start planting chips in human brains in 2020, in order to honour a pledge made the year before. It later vowed to get started in 2022.