Elon Musk’s brain chip startup Neuralink has recorded its first successful human brain chip implant. Musk wrote on his X formerly Twitter page, “ Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,”
Spikes are cell activities that use electrical and chemical signals to send information around the brain and to the body as described by the National Institute of Health.
The idea behind the startup is to help patients overcome paralysis and other neurological disorders which it has been able to achieve successfully with the first human patient. For any company producing medical devices, the first test in humans is a significant milestone,” said Professor Anne Vanhoestenberghe of King’s College London.”
Elon Musk’s company was given permission to test the chips on human by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2023. Prior to the approval, however, the company had received criticism in the December 2022 that the company had engaged in testing which resulted in the death of approximately 1500 animals including sheep, monkeys and pigs.
Musk denied the claims and wrote in a social media post on Sept. 10 that “no monkey has died as a result of a Neuralink implant.” He added that the company chose “terminal” monkeys to minimize risk to healthy ones.
Although in July 2023, it was vindicated when the head of the US Department of Agriculture – which investigates animal welfare concerns – said it had not found any violations of animal research rules at the firm.
How it works;
The study uses a robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in a region of the brain that controls the intention to move, Neuralink said previously, adding that its initial goal is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.
The company says that these threads allow its experimental implant – powered by a battery that can be charged wirelessly – to record and transmit brain signals wirelessly to an app that decodes how the person intends to move.
Neuralink’s First Product is Called, Telepathy:
In another post on X, Mr Musk said Neuralink’s first product would be called Telepathy.
According to Musk, Telepathy would enable “control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking”.
He added that “Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs.”
In as much as Elon Musk’s involvement will raise the Neuralink’s Startup profile, it does not mean that safety will be compromised.
Professor Anne Vanhoestenberghe of King’s College London suggested there needed to be a note of caution as “true success” could only be evaluated in the long-term.
“We know Elon Musk is very adept at generating publicity for his company,” she added.
Neuralink isn’t the first company to conduct a brain chip implan, some of his rivals have had a track record dating back two decades. One of such is Utah-based Blackrock Neurotech which implanted its first of many brain-computer interfaces in 2004.