Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial


At a ‘show and tell’ occasion on Wednesday, Elon Musk mentioned that his brain-computer interface firm, Neuralink, might implant considered one of its gadgets in somebody’s head inside the subsequent six months — which means it’s not taking place this yr. He additionally claimed that he would get the gadget implanted in his personal head in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later.

During the presentation, Musk mentioned that the corporate had submitted a lot of the paperwork wanted for a human scientific trial to the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medical gadgets within the United States. Previously, Musk had mentioned that he’d hoped for human trials to start in 2020, after which 2022. Now, that’s slipped to a minimum of 2023.

Neuralink’s objective is to create a tool that may be implanted within the mind, and use it to regulate a pc with mind exercise. Back in 2019, Musk revealed that the corporate was testing its gadget in monkeys. In 2020, it trotted out pigs with the implants. And final yr, Neuralink launched a video exhibiting a monkey taking part in Pong with its mind. This yr, the monkeys are again. In a video demonstration, considered one of them helped “type” the phrase ‘welcome to show and tell’ utilizing their implant by specializing in highlighted phrases and letters. Another video confirmed how the monkeys have been educated to cost the gadgets by sitting underneath a wi-fi charger.

The banana smoothie wi-fi charger.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The Neuralink gadgets themselves are small, with a number of versatile “threads” that may be inserted into the mind. “It’s like replacing a piece of your skull with a smartwatch, for lack of a better analogy,” Musk mentioned.

In about quarter-hour, 64 of those “threads” will be implanted into the mind utilizing a robotic system, mentioned DJ Seo, the vp of Implant and co-founder of Neuralink, through the presentation — whereas utilizing a model to indicate how the method may work.

Neuralink’s threads.

Neuralink’s threads.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The purpose for the robotic surgeons comes down to simply how tiny these threads are. “Imagine taking a hair from your head and sticking it into jello covered by saran wrap, doing that to a precise depth and precision, and doing that 64 times in a reasonable amount of time,” mentioned Christine Odabashian, the chief of Neuralink’s {hardware} insertion crew.

The firm’s demos in 2019 and 2020 have been designed as recruitment occasions, and this one isn’t any totally different; the corporate admitted recruiting was its major objective of the night. Neuralink is at the moment trying to fill many various sorts of jobs because it strikes from “prototype to product”, Musk mentioned at tonight’s present and inform.

The occasion was largely a technical presentation of the gadget, showcasing how the system was constructed, challenges the crew has confronted, how the tech has improved to this point, and what developments are coming subsequent. Researchers on the firm mentioned they have been creating therapies that would both assist enhance or restore imaginative and prescient, or restore motion in folks with paralysis. On the tech facet, the corporate has ambitions to guarantee that the gadget itself will be upgraded.

“I’m pretty sure you would not want an iPhone 1 in your head if an iPhone 14 was available,” Musk mentioned.


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