“I expect the first Neuralink device to be tested on a human within six months.” Elon Musk sets a deadline for a passage that could prove to be an unforgettable new stage in his history studded with very ambitious projects. Neuralink’s goal is to develop a chip to be implanted in the brain that allows the subject to interface with an external device. In the intentions of the company, this would allow people with disabilities to move and communicate.
Launched in 2016, Neuralink has so far conducted tests on animals over the years, the last one presented to the public over a year ago: a monkey capable, thanks to the brain implant, of playing a video game in a totally autonomous way. Now Neuralink wants to take the last step. “We want to be very careful and above all certain that it will work – Musk’s words during an event organized to update the public on the project – before implanting the chip in the brain of a human being. But in the meantime we have submitted to the FDA (the on drugs and medical research) all of our documentation. Probably – Musk hopes – in about six months we will be able to test Neuralink in a human being”.
The event was initially scheduled for October 31st, then postponed without an explanation. Neuralink, based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas, has set itself the mission since its appearance to arrive at a chip capable of controlling complex electronic devices to then be able not only to allow people with paralysis to regain their motor skills, but to treat degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Without neglecting the study of the mix between the brain and artificial intelligence.
To curb the enthusiasm is the inability so far demonstrated by Neuralink to meet the deadlines set. According to the schedule, human trials should have started by the end of 2022. And Musk’s disappointment had reached the point of thinking about an investment in the competitor Synchron, which obtained the green light from the FDA in 2021 and last July actually implanted his device in a patient in the United States after completing tests on four people in Australia. Now Musk tells the world he still believes in Neuralink. The race restarts.