The concept of embedding a surveillance chip within the human brain is edging closer to realization as Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain implant venture, progresses towards conducting its inaugural human clinical trials.
The company has declared its intention to recruit participants for these trials, aiming to develop a fully implantable, wireless brain-computer interface tailored for individuals suffering from paralysis.
What Elon Musk’s Neuralink aim to achieve?
Neuralink’s approach involves the utilization of a robot to surgically implant the ultra-fine and flexible threads into the brain, with the implant designed to capture and transmit brain signals wirelessly to a dedicated app capable of decoding movement intentions.
As outlined in Neuralink’s brochure, this comprehensive study is anticipated to span approximately six years before reaching its conclusion.
Since its establishment in 2016, the company has secured more than $1 billion in funding, with Elon Musk personally contributing an undisclosed sum estimated to be in the multimillion-dollar range. On Tuesday, the brain-chip startup announced that it has obtained approval from an independent review board to commence recruitment for the clinical trial involving individuals with paralysis.
The company’s trial is set to begin
The trial is open to those suffering from paralysis resulting from cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), although the exact number of participants to be enrolled has not been disclosed.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink has expressed its initial objective as enabling individuals to manipulate a computer cursor or keyboard solely through their thoughts. Sources suggest that the company, originally aiming for approval to implant its device in 10 patients, engaged in negotiations with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address safety concerns. However, the precise number of patients approved by the FDA remains undisclosed.
Elon Musk’s project also seeks to streamline the surgical implantation of chip devices for addressing conditions such as obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia. In May, the company announced FDA clearance for its first human clinical trial, even as it faced federal scrutiny regarding its handling of animal testing.
Experts suggest that even if the brain-computer interface (BCI) device proves to be safe for human application, it could still take over a decade for Elon Musk’s startup to obtain commercial clearance for it.
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