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Industry - December 1, 2022

Elon Musk Set to Neuralink’s Human Trials in 6 Months

After missing prior deadlines that have been set, Elon Musk said on Wednesday that he anticipates Neuralink’s human trials to begin in six months. 

This will entail developing a wireless brain chip by Elon Musk’s company Neuralink to start human clinical testing.

According to Musk, the company is working on brain chip interfaces that might let crippled people move and communicate once again. 

Musk added on Wednesday that the programme would also focus on recovering vision.

Neuralink, a company with offices in Austin, Texas, and the San Francisco Bay Area has recently been using animal testing to obtain U.S. permission. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will start human clinical trials.

“We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human,” Musk said during a much-awaited public update on the device.


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Elon Musk speaking at an event

Elon Musk emphasised the speed at which the business is creating its device during a nearly three-hour presentation to a small group of invited guests at Neuralink’s headquarters centred on the human trials.

“The progress at first, particularly as it applies to humans, will seem perhaps agonisingly slow, but we are doing all of the things to bring it to scale in parallel,” he added. “So, in theory, progress should be exponential.”

According to Elon Musk, Neuralink’s device’s first two human uses would be to restore vision and allow those who are unable to move their muscles to do so.

Musk cancelled the event just days before it was scheduled for October 31 without providing a reason.

More than a year ago, Neuralink showed a monkey with a brain chip using only its thoughts to play a computer game.

Elon Musk’s plan for Neuralink 

Musk, who also owns the electric car company Tesla (TSLA.O), the rocket company SpaceX, and the social media site Twitter, is renowned for his aspirational plans to colonise Mars and save humanity. 

The same lofty goals are held for Neuralink, which he founded in 2016.

He intends to create a chip that would enable the brain to control intricate electronic equipment, eventually restoring motor function to paralysed persons and treating disorders of the brain, including Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. He also discusses combining artificial intelligence with the brain.

However, Neuralink is going behind schedule. In a 2019 presentation, Musk stated that his goal was to win regulatory permission by the end of 2020. Then, in late 2021, he declared at a conference that he wanted to begin human trials this year.

Current and former workers claim that Neuralink has routinely missed internal deadlines for obtaining FDA approval to begin human studies. 

After complaining to Neuralink staff members about their poor development, Musk approached rival Synchron early this year about a prospective investment.

By successfully implanting its device in a patient in the United States for the first time in July, Synchron achieved a significant milestone. 

In 2021, it got regulatory approval from the US for use in human trials, and studies involving four Australians have been completed.


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