Neuralink, a brain implant company founded by Elon Musk, has announced that it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct its first human trials. The company aims to use its device to treat severe neurological conditions such as paralysis and blindness.
The Neuralink device consists of a coin-sized chip that is implanted in the skull and connected to thin wires that penetrate the brain. The chip can record and stimulate brain activity, enabling communication between the brain and external devices such as computers or smartphones.
The company has previously demonstrated its technology on animals, such as pigs and monkeys, and claimed that it can enable them to control video games or computer cursors with their minds. Neuralink also said that it has successfully implanted and removed its device in sheep without causing any damage to the brain tissue.
Neuralink's human trials will involve up to 10 patients who suffer from quadriplegia due to spinal cord injury or stroke. The company will implant its device in their motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement, and train them to use a wireless controller to operate a computer interface. The goal is to restore some of their mobility and independence.
We are excited to share that we have received the FDA's approval to launch our first-in-human clinical study!
This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our…
— Neuralink (@neuralink) May 25, 2023
Neuralink Is First but Not the Last
Neuralink is not the only company working on brain-computer interfaces. Several other firms, such as Blackrock Microsystems and Kernel, have already conducted human trials with similar devices and reported positive results. However, Neuralink claims that its device is more advanced and less invasive than its competitors.
Neuralink's vision is to eventually make its device accessible and affordable for anyone who wants to enhance their cognitive abilities or experience new forms of communication. Musk has said that he believes that Neuralink can cure a range of mental disorders, such as depression, autism, and schizophrenia, and even enable web browsing and telepathy.
However, Neuralink also faces many challenges and risks, such as ethical, regulatory, and social issues. Some experts have raised concerns about the safety, efficacy, and long-term effects of Neuralink's device on the brain and the body. Others have questioned the ethical implications of altering human cognition and behavior with technology.
Neuralink said that it is not yet open for a clinical trial and that it will provide more details about its human trials in the future. The company also said that it is working closely with the FDA and other stakeholders to ensure that its technology is safe and beneficial for humanity.
Neuralink is step beyond what AI has been doing in terms of cognitive technology. It provides a direct neural link through technology. Microsoft works with cognitive AI in its Azure Cognitive Services, but has so far not explored openly ways to implement technology directly within the brain.
Azure Cognitive Services is a platform that allows developers to tap into APIs and add them to apps leverage speech, search, and other AI tools. Importantly, developers can tap into the service without needing to learn master machine learning abilities.