Elon Musk says Neuralink has implanted first brain chip in a human
Tech billionaire Elon Musk announces that Neuralink has successfully carried out the first implantation of its wireless brain chip in a human.
Initial findings show promising nerve impulses, and the patient is in good recovery. Neuralink's objective is to establish a connection between human brains and computers, aiming to address intricate neurological conditions. Several competing companies have already implemented similar devices.
BBC News has sought comments from both Neuralink and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA granted permission for human testing in May, marking a crucial advancement following previous approval challenges.
The approval marked the commencement of a six-year study, during which a robot is utilized to surgically insert 64 flexible threads—thinner than human hair—into a brain region controlling "movement intention," as outlined by Neuralink.
These threads, according to the company, facilitate the functioning of its experimental implant. This implant, powered by a wirelessly chargeable battery, records and wirelessly transmits brain signals to an app that interprets the individual's intended movements.
On his social media platform, X (formerly Twitter), Elon Musk announced that Neuralink's initial product, called Telepathy, would enable individuals to control devices such as phones or computers, and almost any device, through thought. He emphasized that the primary users would be those who have lost limb function, envisioning a communication capability akin to the late Stephen Hawking, who had motor neurone disease, surpassing that of a fast typist or auctioneer.
While Musk's involvement elevates Neuralink's prominence, the company faces competition from well-established rivals. Utah-based Blackrock Neurotech, operational since 2004, and Precision Neuroscience, founded by a Neuralink co-founder, are working on brain-computer interfaces for individuals with paralysis. Precision Neuroscience's implant, resembling a thin tape on the brain's surface, can be implanted via a less complex "cranial micro-slit."
Recent scientific studies in the US have demonstrated the efficacy of existing devices, with implants monitoring brain activity during speech attempts and decoding signals to aid communication.