Elon Musk has implanted himself as a changemaker in social media, satellite internet, and electric cars. Now, he’s coming for the human brain.
Musk’s brain chip technology company, Neuralink, announced on Wednesday that it would begin human trials on patients with paralysis in what’s expected to be a six-year-long study.
Dubbed the PRIME (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface) study, Neuralink will be recruiting qualified paraplegic patients due to “cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),” per the company’s release.
The trial aims to implant the device into patients’ brains so that paralyzed patients can hopefully learn to “control external devices with their thoughts.”
Musk confirmed the news via X early Wednesday.
The first human patient will soon receive a Neuralink device. This ultimately has the potential to restore full body movement.
In the long term, Neuralink hopes to play a role in AI risk civilizational risk reduction by improving human to AI (and human to human) bandwidth by… https://t.co/DzqoYI27Ng
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 20, 2023
“In the long term, Neuralink hopes to play a role in AI risk civilizational risk reduction by improving human to AI (and human to human) bandwidth by several orders of magnitude,” he explained. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking had had this.”
Neuralink received FDA approval for human testing in May, after only having previously tested on chimpanzees.
Earlier this year, in February, Neuralink was probed by the U.S. Department of Transportation after being accused of potentially spreading disease and bacteria by not properly transporting and packaging materials from the brain chips used in primates.
The company also faced allegations of animal abuse in 2022 upon its first round of testing.
Neuralink denied the claims.
“If animals must be used in research in the meantime, their lives and experiences should be as vital and naturalistic as possible,” the company said at the time. “It is our responsibility as caretakers to ensure that their experience is as peaceful and frankly, as joyful as possible.”