Elon Musk, the visionary entrepreneur and founder of Neuralink, has announced that the first human has received a brain chip implant from his startup. The operation took place on Sunday and the patient was recovering well, according to Musk’s post on X, the social media platform he owns.
Neuralink is a company that aims to create a wireless brain-computer interface that can enable people with paralysis to control devices with their thoughts. The company received FDA clearance for human clinical trials last year and began recruiting patients with quadriplegia caused by cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The first product from Neuralink, called Telepathy, will allow users to communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer, Musk said. He cited the example of Stephen Hawking, the late physicist who had ALS and used a computer-based speech synthesizer to communicate.
The brain chip implant, known as the “Link”, is a small device that is surgically placed in the part of the brain that controls the intention to move. The Link records and sends brain signals to an app, with the initial goal being to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.
The implant is installed by a robot developed by Neuralink, which can insert ultra-fine threads that help transmit signals in the brain. The robot can also remove the implant if needed, without causing any damage to the brain tissue.
Neuralink claims that its technology has the potential to treat various neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and chronic pain. The company also envisions a future where humans can enhance their cognitive abilities and merge with artificial intelligence.
Neuralink is not the only company working on brain-computer interfaces. Other competitors include Kernel, Paradromics, Synchron, and Facebook’s Reality Labs. However, Neuralink has gained a lot of attention and funding due to Musk’s involvement and reputation as an innovator.
Neuralink has also faced some challenges and controversies along the way. In 2022, a monkey died during an attempt to get the animal to play Pong, one of the first video games, using a Neuralink implant. The incident sparked ethical concerns and criticism from animal rights groups.
In 2023, Neuralink was fined for violating US Department of Transportation rules regarding the movement of hazardous materials. The company had failed to register itself as a transporter of hazardous material and had improperly packaged hazardous waste, including the flammable liquid Xylene.
Despite these setbacks, Neuralink has continued to pursue its ambitious vision of creating a brain-computer interface that can transform lives and society. The announcement of the first human implant is a significant milestone for the company and for the field of neuroscience.
Neuralink did not provide any further details about the identity or condition of the first human patient. It is not clear when the results of the trial will be published or when Telepathy will be available for commercial use. However, Musk said that he will share more updates on Neuralink’s progress in the coming weeks.