Elon Musk shared on a social media platform on Monday that the first person has received a brain implant from his company, Neuralink. After some delays, Neuralink began looking for volunteers for a clinical trial last fall, with approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and a hospital ethics board.
Neuralink’s main goal, according to Musk, is to create a connection between humans and artificial intelligence. However, their initial focus is helping paralyzed individuals control a computer or keyboard with their brains. The clinical trial is looking for participants with paralysis in all four limbs due to spinal cord injury or ALS, aged at least 22.
The company will use a surgical robot to place a coin-sized implant in a part of the brain that controls movement intention. This device will then record and transmit brain signals wirelessly to an app for decoding. Musk mentioned in his post that the patient is recovering well, and initial results show promising neuron spike detection. However, it may take months to confirm if the patient can effectively use the implant to control a computer.
Neuralink has faced controversy, especially regarding its treatment of research animals. There were reports of monkeys dying during brain implant testing, leading to a federal investigation. Additionally, the company faced fines for violating transportation rules.
As of now, Neuralink has not disclosed the trial location or the number of participants. They have set up a patient registry for potential volunteers to check their eligibility. While Musk’s announcement may not immediately advance the goal of merging humans with AI, it marks an important step for the promising device.