Elon Musk’s Neuralink company announced late today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the green light to experiment with implanting brain chips in humans.
We are pleased to announce that we have received FDA approval to initiate our first human clinical trial!
This is the culmination of incredible work by the Neuralink team working closely with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day make our…
— Neuralink (@neuralink) May 25, 2023
Founded in 2016 and funded primarily by billionaire Musk, the company develops electronic implants that decode brain activity and transmit it to computers. While other companies have used brain implants to help people with debilitating medical conditions like paralysis and ALS, Neuralink’s brain chips have only been used in monkeys.
But that will soon change.
Musk has said“I think with Neuralink we have an opportunity to restore full body functionality to someone with a spinal cord injury.” But he and the company also want to take the technology one step further: maximizing the potential of healthy humans to keep pace with artificial intelligence.
“We want to exceed the performance of healthy people with our technology,” says Neuralink tweeted last month.
Related: Elon Musk’s Neuralink is Under Investigation for Alleged Danger to Human Security
“The future is going to be weird.”
Musk said he envisions a world where patients can go by clinics to have a chip surgically implanted into their brain by a robot. “You can save and replay memories,” he said at a show-and-tell presentation last year. “The future is going to be weird.”
He also predicts that customers will regularly want to upgrade their brain chips to the latest models.
“I’m pretty sure you don’t want the iPhone 1 stuck in your head when the iPhone 14 is available,” Musk said.
Musk is so confident that the devices are safe that he would be willing to implant them in his children.
It’s still unclear whether the brain implants will pass the rigorous FDA trial phase. Still, the announcement is a major step forward for Musk’s business empire and brain-computer interface technology.