In a recent announcement on his social media platform, X (formerly Twitter), tech mogul Elon Musk revealed that his company, Neuralink, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully implanting one of its wireless brain chips in a human. According to Musk, the patient is showing “promising” brain activity after the procedure and is reportedly “recovering well.”
Neuralink’s ambitious goal is to connect human brains to computers to address complex neurological conditions. Musk’s announcement places Neuralink among a select group of companies that have accomplished human brain chip implantation, marking a noteworthy advancement in the field.
Professor Anne Vanhoestenberghe from King’s College London acknowledged the significance of this achievement, highlighting that for companies producing medical devices, the first human test is a significant milestone. However, she emphasized the need for caution, noting that the true success of such endeavors can only be evaluated in the long term.
While Musk’s claim has garnered attention, there has been no independent verification, and Neuralink has not provided detailed information about the implantation procedure. BBC News has reached out to Neuralink and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for comment.
Notably, Neuralink has faced criticism in the past, with reports of animal testing resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,500 animals. The FDA granted permission for human testing in May 2023, allowing Neuralink to conduct a six-year study involving the surgical placement of 64 flexible threads onto a part of the brain controlling “movement intention.” These threads facilitate the recording and wireless transmission of brain signals to an app that decodes the user’s intended movements.
Musk also revealed Neuralink’s first product, named “Telepathy,” which aims to enable control of devices, including phones and computers, through thought. Initial users are expected to be individuals who have lost the use of their limbs. Musk envisions Telepathy offering improved communication for individuals with conditions like motor neurone disease, citing the late Stephen Hawking as an example.
While Musk’s involvement has brought attention to Neuralink, other companies in the brain-computer interface space, such as Blackrock Neurotech and Precision Neuroscience, have notable track records dating back two decades. The future of brain-computer interfaces holds potential for transformative medical advances, though widespread availability may still be years away.