A microchip implanted in a human brain is coming soon. The Neuralink company has been working on the project since 2016 under the supervision of Elon Musk. Previous tests have been conducted on monkeys in recent months and the company is now awaiting approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed to the next phase.
Musk says play it safe
“We are now confident that the Neuralink device is ready for use in humans. The timing is therefore dependent on the FDA approval process”, tweeted the multi-billionaire this Friday, December 1. The CEO of Neuralink had spoken at greater length the day before during a conference at the company’s headquarters devoted to advances in technology. According to Reuters, the firm expects to begin real-world human testing within a semester.
The implants developed by Neuralink could allow people with disabilities to move and communicate again. Some patients’ sight may also be restored. The progress of the project has seen many slowdowns, but the next phase of testing could speed up development. “Early progress, especially on humans, may seem painfully slow, but we’re doing whatever it takes to scale it alongside […] So, in theory, the progress should be exponential”assures Elon Musk relayed by Reuters.
The boss of Twitter and Tesla says he wants to make sure the chip is working properly before it is implanted in a human brain. “We want to be extremely careful”he added.
A hotly contested project
In line with Musk’s ambitions, the chip could be used by an able-bodied population, with the aim of providing a service capable of controlling complex electronic devices. The fusion of the brain with artificial intelligence is also mentioned. Initially, the objects would be turned towards the medical sector. A way to make the device more easily accepted by the general public. That said, the Neuralink project is criticized by many scientists and questions around ethics and intra-personal data are raised.
The American start-up also found itself at the heart of a scandal when testing its implants on animals. The Practitioners Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) accused Neuralink in February 2022 of animal abuse. “The macaques used in the experiment were locked alone in cages, steel poles were screwed onto their skulls. They suffered ‘facial trauma’, seizures as a result of the brain implants and recurrent infections at the implant sites.had alerted the experts.