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Musk Finally Did It–Someone Got the Neuralink Chip Implant

Neuralink’s human trials are using this chip

Neuralink human trials are officially underway as of this month, and the findings from these trials are likely to have a significant impact on the field overall. While details are scant, it is a landmark achievement for the company after suffering some bumps along the path this past year. Though Neuralink’s brain chip implant trial is examining safety and implantation techniques, it’s setting the stage for much more. This is great news for those with paralysis, speech impairments, and perhaps even visual limitations. Certainly, the functional use of such technologies may be years away, these reflect the first steps toward that end. And ultimately, it may provide an actual symbiosis between the human brain and AI. In that regard, Elon Musk’s accomplishment may well usher in a new era of human achievement never before seen.

(The biggest hurdle for Neuralink has been… Uncle Sam. Read why in this Bold story.)

A Little About Neuralink’s Telepathy

Neuralink’s human trials put chips in brains
Neuralink’s human trials have begun–are you going to get an implant?

As far as nomenclature goes, Neuralink’s new brain chip implant is called Telepathy, which is quite an appropriate name. The device is about the size of a coin and has several ultrafine hair-like wires that extend from it. In essence, these brain chips have wires that measure nerve cell electrical and chemical activity. These signals are then interpreted and communicated to a smartphone or computer via wireless technology. This is what hopefully allows various functions that some individuals may not be able to otherwise perform. Telepathy, for example, may allow prosthetic movements in a paralyzed individual. It might even provide visual imagery in someone without sight. The current Neuralink human trials are not assessing this yet per se. But this is what the device will hopefully allow.

(What do you know about neuromorphic computing brain chips? Read this Bold story and catch up.)

Notably, the present brain chip implant is placed beneath the skull in the current Neuralink human trials. It is being placed in a brain region associated with motor control and movement. Thus, the device seeks to interpret intentions of movement for a specific individual and then translate that to action. In this instance, this might be movement of a cursor on a computer or navigation of a smartphone app. In addition, the device is being placed surgically using robotics technology. In addition to assessing the safety of the brain chip implant itself, the precise robotic technique is also being evaluated. This represents the first step of Neuralink’s human trials before moving on to actual functional experiments.

The Current PRIME Study Trial

In May of this past year, the FDA gave Neuralink the green to conduct human trials using Telepathy. As such, Musk announced that the very first participant in the PRIME Study trial received the brain chip implant on January 28. The person enrolled in Neuralink’s human trials remains anonymous, and the current status of that person’s health unknown. But according to Musk’s social media posts on X, all sounded positive. This, of course, is the first human to receive such a device, but animal studies have already been conducted. Reportedly, animal trials have shown device safety in swine. They have also demonstrated some functionality in monkeys. Specifically, a monkey with the brain chip implant was able to “think” its way through a video game.

Musk making a face over his Neuralink sign
Congrats to Musk for bring us closer to the future… albeit, a scarier one.

It’s expected that other participants in the PRIME Study trial will follow, and Musk has outlined preferred participants. The first candidates for study will be individuals who have lost the function of the limbs. Those with cervical spine injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis would be examples of ideal participants in the study. Later, individuals with vison impairment or speech inabilities may also be included in trials. This assumes, of course, that the current Neuralink human trials go well. Before functional testing can advance very far, the brain chip implant must be deemed safe over time. As such, it is clear that the current experiments are just the beginning before FDA approval for actual use occurs.

A Year Full of Strife

brain chip implant examined by a woman
Do you want a brain chip implant? Well, your opportunity is here.

The starting of Neuralink’s human trials is a huge success, particularly after the struggles the company have faced lately. A few months back, the company was fined by the U.S. Department of Transportation for improper transport of hazardous materials. It was then investigated for safety concerns of its brain chip implant based on negative animal study reports. Supposedly, some monkeys with the device developed complications like seizures, brain swelling, and paralysis. And it has been accused of unethical treatment of monkeys and other experimental animals. Musk assures others that only “terminal monkeys” were used in experimentation protocols. But doubts surrounding Neuralink and its procedures do persist despite the recent blessing from the FDA.

While negative press has occurred, Neuralink and Musk persevere regardless. In June of this past year, the company was valuated at $5 billion. But while Neuralink’s human trials are making headlines, it does have competition. Several commercial enterprises and research centers are actively investigated brain chip implants. For example, Stanford University has been researching a brain-spine interface for those with body paralysis. Their preliminary results look promising in animal studies thus far as well. Given this, it’s evident that implant technologies have significant potential. This not only involves new treatment opportunities in healthcare but in other areas as well. This includes enhancing human brain capacities by connecting to generative AI inputs. For now, this still sounds like science fiction. But believe it or not, it looks we are entering into this brave new world faster than most thought.

 

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