Neuralink (Photo: Neuralink)
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk's Neuralink announced Friday that it has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin conducting the first human trials. So far, the company has conducted isolated experiments on animals, including monkeys. "FDA approval is an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people," Neuralink said in a tweet. At least for now, the company hasn't indicated whether it's hiring people for trials, but more details are expected to be released soon.
In the past, in Neuralink's public announcements, Musk laid out a bold vision for the company: The chip it is developing, he claims, will allow people with disabilities and healthy people alike to enter a neighborhood branch of the company and undergo a rapid surgical procedure in which chips will be implanted in their heads, which can treat a variety of medical problems ranging from obesity, through autism, depression or schizophrenia, to adding capabilities such as surfing the web directly from the brain and telepathy. "You can record and replay memories," Musk said. "The future will be strange."
Last March, the FDA postponed the start of trials because of dozens of problems, including the lithium battery that powers the implanted chip, the likelihood that the implant's tiny wires could migrate to other parts of the brain, and issues related to removal.
The trials are also underway amid a federal investigation into Neuralink for allegedly violating animal welfare laws. Last December, employees at the company complained about numerous recent animal experiments that cause them unnecessary suffering.
- Elon Musk