The first human study of Neuralink, a brain-chip firm founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has begun. The clinical trial will focus on patients with paralysis caused by cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The announcement was made on September 19, however the exact number of participants is still unknown.
Initially, Neuralink intended to get FDA permission for ten participants, but after safety concerns were raised by the FDA, the business found itself negotiating for a smaller participant pool.The clinical trial is intended to last six years, allowing for a thorough understanding of the implant’s safety and efficacy.
Neuralink is a company founded by Elon Musk that is developing implantable brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). BCIs are devices that allow people to directly control computers or other machines with their thoughts. Neuralink’s BCIs are designed to be implanted in the brain and to be able to read and write neural signals. This could allow people to control devices with their minds, or to communicate with computers without having to speak or type.
Neuralink’s BCIs are still in the early stages of development, but the company has made significant progress in recent years. In 2020, Neuralink implanted a BCI in a pig named Gertrude. Gertrude was able to learn to control a video game with her mind using the BCI. In 2021, Neuralink implanted a BCI in a monkey named Pager. Pager was able to learn to control a computer cursor with his mind using the BCI.
Neuralink is planning to begin human trials of its BCIs in 2023. The company has said that its initial focus will be on helping people with paralysis regain control of their bodies. However, Neuralink has also said that it believes that BCIs could eventually be used to enhance human cognitive abilities, such as memory and learning.
Experts have weighed in on the startup’s timescale, indicating that even if the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) implant proves safe for humans, it might be a decade or more before commercial use is permitted, according to Reuters.
Safety concerns over Neuralink’s BCIs
The implantation of a BCI is a complex and invasive procedure. There is a risk of damage to the brain during implantation, as well as a risk of infection or other complications. BCIs are complex electronic devices, and there is a risk of device failure. This could lead to a loss of function, or even to harm to the user.
BCIs collect a lot of data about the user’s brain activity. This data is highly sensitive, and there is a risk of it being hacked or misused.BCIs raise serious privacy concerns. For example, it is possible for a BCI to be used to read the user’s thoughts without their consent
Neuralink is taking steps to address these safety concerns. For example, the company is developing new surgical techniques to reduce the risk of damage to the brain during implantation. Neuralink is also developing new security measures to protect user data. However, it is important to note that BCIs are still a new technology, and there is still much that we don’t know about their long-term safety and effects.
Neuralink’s BCIs have the potential to revolutionise the way we interact with computers and other machines. They could also have a profound impact on the way we treat and manage diseases and disabilities. However, it is important to note that Neuralink’s BCIs are still in the early stages of development, and there are many challenges that need to be addressed before they can be safely and effectively used in humans.
Although some doubt lingers, the venture offers a new dimension to the broader discussion of how technology may be used to treat complicated health problems.
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