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Elon Musk expects to start human clinical trials for his wireless Neuralink device within six months.
With the help of brain chips, the company wants disabled patients to move and communicate again. Neuralink has conducted animal testing in San Francisco and Texas as it seeks U.S. regulatory approval for human clinical trials.
Musk said the company “wants to be extremely careful and make sure that” the chip “will work properly before putting a device into a human.”
“But,” he said, “we’ve, I think, filed most of our paperwork with the FDA, and probably in about six months we should be able to upload Neuralink into a human.”
Neuralink is a small device with electrode-studded wires. In addition to refining the implant, the company has been working on a surgical robot that will remove a piece of the skull to insert the chip into the patient’s brain. Musk indicated in Wednesday’s presentation that Neuralink is working with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to get approvals for human trials.
Along with the brain-computer interface, Musk unveiled two major products. Neuralink is also developing a spinal cord implant with the potential to help paralyzed people regain movement and ocular implants that could help the visually impaired see again.
Musk believes humans can only compete with artificial intelligence (AI) through augmentations that turn us into organic computers. Neuralink’s signature device is a brain-computer interface (BCI) that could also help patients with ALS or stroke victims use their minds to communicate. He demonstrated this Wednesday with an implanted monkey that communicated with a computer. Neuralink’s device reads the neuronal spikes of the implantee and translates them into machine-readable information.
Elon Musk hopes to eventually normalize the device so that humans regularly use it to communicate with machines.