Mixed reactions as Elon Musk’s Neuralink implants brain chip in first human
In a Twitter post last week, Elon Musk announced that his brain technology company, Neuralink had implanted the first human with its brain chip. The controversial CEO said that the patient was recovering well, and “initial results show promising neuron spike detection.”
Spikes are discrete electric signals that neurons use to communicate with each other.
Musk further revealed that the brain device was called Telepathy and that it would enable users to control their phones and computers autonomously which essentially means they can control any other device.
"Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal,” Musk wrote.
The successful implant is a major leap in the world of brain-computer interfaces and Neuralink joins a small list of companies that have been approved to do human tests.
That said, Musk has been known to overpromise and underdeliver with his companies so only time will tell if Neuralink is a real game changer.
“I expect Neuralink will want to give the participant time to recover before they start training their system with the participant. We know Elon Musk is very adept at generating publicity for his company, so we may expect announcements as soon as they begin testing, although true success in my mind should be evaluated in the long term, by how stable the interface is over time, and how much it benefits the participant,” says Anne Vanhoestenberghe, a professor of active implantable medical devices at King’s College London.
Still, some scientific researchers are concerned that there are no additional details about the Neuralink implant.
“The main source of public information on the trial is a study brochure inviting people to participate in it. But that lacks details such as where implantations are being done and the exact outcomes that the trial will assess,” says Tim Denison, a neuroengineer at the University of Oxford, UK.
Additionally, Neuralink has not registered the trial with ClinicalTrials.gov or any other public repository in line with ethical principles designed to protect people who volunteer for clinical trials.
We can only hope that the company will release more details as it begins training the implanted chip.