Hollywood has released dozens, if not hundreds of movies, featuring the implanting of computer chips into humans, typically with adverse results.
During the same time period, however, innovators have identified areas they believe an implanted chip, using Artificial Intelligence and/or robotics, could be developed to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities around the world.
Elon Musk said that Neuralink, Co-founded by Musk in 2016, is developing a chip that would be implanted in people’s brains to simultaneously record and stimulate brain activity. It’s intended to have medical applications, such as treating serious spinal-cord injuries and neurological disorders.
Musk is also the founder, CEO, and Chief Engineer at SpaceX; early-stage investor, CEO, and Product Architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; and OpenAI.
Musk is “cautiously confident” that the implants will allow tetraplegics and quadriplegics to regain full bodily functionality. Quadriplegia or tetraplegia is the full or partial paralysis of the arms and legs.
‘Our standards for implanting the device are higher than what the FDA approves, just like our standards for safety are much higher than what the US government requires.’
During a live-streamed interview at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit on Monday, Musk was asked what Neuralink planned to do in 2022.
Musk said, “Neuralink’s working well in monkeys, and we’re actually doing just a lot of testing and just confirming that it’s very safe and reliable, and the Neuralink device can be removed safely.”
He added, “We hope to have this in our first humans — which will be people that have severe spinal-cord injuries like tetraplegics, quadriplegics — next year, pending FDA approval.”
Musk reiterated the 2022 timeline in a tweet.
Replacing faulty/missing neurons with circuits is the right way to think about it. Many problems can be solved just bridging signals between existing neurons.
Progress will accelerate when we have devices in humans (hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys) next year.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2021
In April, Neuralink released a video of a monkey playing a video game using a Neuralink device.
Neuralink isn’t the only company developing brain-interface technology. In July, a 20-person biotech firm called Synchron obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start human testing.