“The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well,” Musk wrote. “Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.”
The first product is called Telepathy, Musk said in a follow-up post, adding that the device “enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking. 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,” he continued. “That is the goal.”
Musk previously said the Neuralink device would record and stimulate brain activity, acting as a “Fitbit in your skull,” and claimed the implant would eventually “solve” conditions including autism and schizophrenia.
Business Insider’s Hilary Brueck reported in 2019 that neuroscientists believe Neuralink won’t likely be able to “solve” mental health conditions or change the developmental architecture of the brain when it is impacted by diseases like Alzheimer’s.
However, the technology may be effective at stimulating electrodes, thereby helping paralyzed patients achieve better mobility or helping blind patients to see.
Representatives for Neuralink did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
Years in the making
The billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO has been promising that Neuralink would soon begin testing on humans since 2019.
The FDA initially rejected Neuralink’s request for approval to test its brain chips in humans last March, citing concerns that they could overheat or move in the brain, Reuters reported. Approval was ultimately granted in May 2023.
The approval prompted thousands of prospective patients to sign up as volunteers to have a portion of their skull removed and the implant inserted.
When the company began recruiting for its first human trial in September, Neuralink said in a blog post that it was seeking patients with spinal cord injuries who have paralysis in all four limbs or who have been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
While Neuralink says it hopes to help people with neurological disorders with its implanted devices, the company also aims to eventually develop an implant that will allow people to send messages or play games using only their thoughts.
Musk, who in 2022 claimed he plans to implant one of the chips in his own brain someday, has said he aims to create such a powerful interface through Neuralink that it will enable humans to process information faster, speed up cognition, and “achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”
But some experts are skeptical. In 2019, Business Insider’s Brueck spoke to Columbia University neuroscientist Randy Bruno, who said he was unsure that Neuralink could ever facilitate such super-enhanced thinking power due to the basic function of the brain.
“Neurons work at a certain speed,” Bruno, a researcher who implants probes into mouse brains, said. “I think that’s ultimately going to be limiting.”
Others have raised concerns over the ethics of the technology and its development, and Musk’s promises about what Neuralink will be able to do.
“We should, of course, hope that the intervention ultimately functions as advertised with few potential adverse side-effects,” Jason T. Eberl, professor and director of the Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University, told Healthline in 2022.
“However, any for-profit medical device company also has a vested interest in generating a consumer base, which is why they make the sometimes grandiose claims they do.”
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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