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The start-up Neuralink, one of Elon Musk’s companies, announced on Twitter on Thursday that it had received approval from US health authorities to test its connected brain implants on humans.
“This is an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people,” said the Californian company on its Twitter account, adding that “recruitments for clinical trials are not yet open”.
Neuralink designs connected devices to be implanted in the brain to communicate with computers directly through thought.
Help paralyzed people
They must first be used to help people who are paralyzed or suffering from neurological diseases. The start-up then wants to make these implants safe and reliable enough for them to be elective (comfort) surgery. People could then pay a few thousand dollars to endow their brains with computer power.
For Elon Musk, these chips must allow humanity to achieve a “symbiosis with AI”, in his words of 2020, delivered at the company’s annual conference.
“We are now confident that Neuralink’s device is ready for humans, so the timing depends on the FDA (the agency responsible for public health in the United States) approval process,” said he indicated at the end of November on Twitter, a month after having bought the social network. He runs and/or owns other companies, including Tesla and SpaceX.
three years late
The billionaire is a regular at risky predictions, especially about the autonomy of Tesla electric cars. In July 2019, he estimated that Neuralink could perform its first tests on people in 2020. So far, the coin-sized prototypes have been implanted in the skulls of animals.
Several monkeys are thus able to “play” video games or “type” words on a screen, simply by following the movement of the cursor on the screen with their eyes.
Other companies are working on controlling computers by thought, such as Synchron, which announced in July 2022 that it had implanted the first brain-machine interface in the United States.