Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain implant startup, has completed its first brain implant on a human patient. And the billionaire says that the patient is “recovering well” one day after the surgery, and is showing promising results of neuron spike detection.
Musk did not offer additional details regarding the process or the current status of the trial. Nonetheless, he did disclose some insights into the initial product of the startup, referred to as “Telepathy.” It is speculated that this same product is undergoing testing with the aforementioned patient.
As the name implies, the chip deems power like Charles Xavier, aka Professor X from X-Men comics.
While ordinary individuals cannot read or manipulate the thoughts of others, those equipped with the “Telepathy” implant in their brains possess the ability to control various devices, such as phones or computers, using only their minds. Musk envisions that individuals like Stephen Hawking could communicate more swiftly than professional typists or auctioneers with this technology. The initial beneficiaries of this innovation are individuals who have lost control of their limbs.
Neuralink obtained approval for human trials in 2023. Later that year, Bloomberg reported that thousands had signed up for the six-year trial involving brain implants. The startup sought adult candidates under 40 with quadriplegia resulting from either a vertical spinal cord injury or ALS, with complete paralysis of all four limbs, to participate in their research.
The company issued a press release at the time, outlining that the human trials primarily focus on assessing the safety and functionality of their implanted chip. The principal aim of this research is to enable participants to manipulate a computer cursor or keyboard solely through their thoughts.
So far, this is the first human in public knowledge to have undergone Neuralink’s trial. The startup has tested its brain-computer interface on animals, and it even showcased the trial subjects at public events. A monkey played ping pong, and another learned to type messages and charge wirelessly. A pig even ran on a treadmill. However, former employees have criticised the testing as “hack jobs” and allege unnecessary animal suffering, leading to investigations from multiple departments, including the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Transportation.