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Elon Musk ‘confident’ Neuralink brain chip is ‘ready for humans’

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-12-01

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Elon Musk said his brain-computer interface (BCI) company Neuralink expects to begin clinical trials in humans in “about six months.”

The multibillionaire tweeted on Thursday that he is confident that the Neuralink device is “ready for humans,” adding that the timing for beginning trials in people is a “function of working through the FDA approval process.”

The Tesla titan had claimed the BCI technology will help treat people with brain disorders and diseases and help disabled people move and communicate.

Mr Musk had earlier this year said the technology could eventually be used for more ambitious purposes such as allowing “human-AI symbiosis”.

“We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human but we’ve submitted I think most of our paperwork to the FDA and probably in about six months we should be able to upload Neuralink in a human,” he said on Wednesday at a much-awaited “show and tell” event originally planned for October.

At the last major public event, Neuralink demonstrated a monkey capable of playing the video game Pong using just its mind .

The company has been conducting numerous controversial tests on animals even as it seeks US regulatory approvals for starting clinical trials in humans.

Earlier this year, animal rights group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) alleged Neuralink committed several violations of the Animal Welfare Act and complained about “inadequate animal care” for research monkeys.

Neuralink defended its use of monkeys in research claiming it was “absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible”.

PCRM claimed Neuralink killed at least 15 monkeys implanted with a brain chip during trials, but it admitted to euthanising eight .

The BCI startup has also been running behind its own internal deadlines for clinical trials in humans.

In a 2019 presentation, Mr Musk said he hoped to receive regulatory approval by the end of 2020, and later at a 2021 conference, said he hoped to start human trials by the end of 2021.

Last year, human trials for BCI technology took place in Australia, where researchers at the Neurotech startup Synchron enabled a paralysed man to make the first “direct-thought” tweet after a computer chip was implanted in his brain .

“No need for keystrokes or voices, I created this tweet just by thinking it,” the tweet noted.

The company completed studies on four people in Australia in 2021 and implanted its device in a patient in the US for the first time in July, Reuters reported.

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