Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, has ventured into an unorthodox quest, seeking the first volunteer for a groundbreaking experiment, transcending boundaries between the human mind and technology.
While Musk has traversed into outer space with SpaceX, he also steers Neuralink, delving into cyberspace through innovative neurological advancements. Neuralink’s pursuit involves implanting chips into individuals’ brains as a potential solution to restore lost limb function.
The founder of Neuralink, DJ Seo, conveyed to Bloomberg News the company’s immediate objective: “The short-term goal of the company is to build a generalized brain interface and restore autonomy to those with debilitating neurological conditions and unmet medical needs.”
However, there’s a crucial requirement – they need volunteers to undergo trials and test the efficacy of the device on a real person. The process entails drilling a hole in the skull and inserting a device, composed of a chip about the size of a quarter, along with minuscule wires and electrodes thinner than human hair, operated by a robot.
Initially planning to implant the device in ten patients, Neuralink re-negotiated a reduced figure with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although the precise approved count remains undisclosed.
Musk’s ambitions don’t halt at addressing mobility-related conditions. He aims to extend the use of these chips to tackle mental health challenges such as depression, schizophrenia, and developmental conditions like autism.
Neuralink’s ultimate aspiration goes beyond medicinal applications, aspiring to unlock the boundless human potential. Seo expounded, “The long-term goal is to have this available for billions of people and unlock human potential and go beyond our biological capabilities.”
Nevertheless, Neuralink has confronted setbacks in its journey, encountering a federal investigation in 2022 following employee opposition over animal testing procedures. Employees at Neuralink expressed concerns that animal testing was being expedited.
Investigations by Reuters found that between 2018 and December 2022, approximately 1,500 animals, including over 280 sheep, pigs, and monkeys, were deceased as part of experiments. The deaths, though not inherently breaching US regulations on animal testing, raised concerns among employees regarding Musk’s push for accelerated progress.
Despite these obstacles, Neuralink is now exploring the prospect of advancing to human trials, poised to test the potential of merging technology with the human brain.