Neuralink Implants First Human with Brain Chip, Demonstrating Promising Results in Paralysis Treatment

Neuralink Implants First Human with Brain Chip, Demonstrating Promising Results in Paralysis Treatment

Elon Musk Unveils Neuralink Success:

In a major announcement on Monday, Elon Musk revealed that Neuralink, his brain-machine interface venture, has successfully implanted its microchip into the brain of a human.

The groundbreaking operation took place on Sunday, with promising early results.

Approval and Human Trials:

Neuralink secured Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in May 2023 for its first trial involving human participants, marking a pivotal moment for the company.

Previously limited to trials in monkeys and pigs, this development underscores the company’s progress in advancing brain-computer interface technology.

Objective of Neuralink:

Neuralink’s primary goal is to implant microchips into the brains of paralyzed individuals, enabling them to control movement through their thoughts.

This revolutionary approach aims to provide a solution for those with severe degenerative brain disorders, such as ALS.

Patient Details and Surgical Procedure:

Details about the first human recipient remain undisclosed. Ashlee Vance, in a Bloomberg report, outlined the ideal candidate as an adult under 40 with limb paralysis.

The surgical process involves a craniectomy, taking a couple of hours, followed by a robot inserting the chip into the brain region controlling hands, wrists, and forearms.

Challenges and Ethical Concerns:

Neuralink’s journey has not been without obstacles. The company faced challenges gaining approval for human trials due to concerns about the lithium battery, potential wire migration, and the safe removal of the implant.

Despite these hurdles, FDA approval was granted in May 2023, with specific details undisclosed.

Musk’s Ambitious Vision for Neuralink:

Elon Musk envisions Neuralink’s technology extending beyond paralysis treatment, potentially addressing conditions such as obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.

The ambitious goals also include features like web browsing and telepathy, promising a wide range of applications.

Pace and Valuation of Neuralink:

Musk’s urgency to outpace competing brain-computer startups Synchron and Onward led to intensified efforts at Neuralink.

Although valued as high as $5 billion based on private stock trades in June, the company has been surrounded by controversy and skepticism within the scientific community.

Timeline and Cautionary Notes:

Neuralink, founded in 2016, has faced challenges in meeting initial timelines. Originally aiming for human chip insertions in 2020 and later revising to 2022, the successful operation has finally occurred in 2024.

Experts caution that even with proven safety, obtaining commercial clearance might take over a decade.

Former Employee Allegations:

Recent reports reveal that Neuralink faced allegations of ‘botched experiments’ with monkeys, raising ethical concerns.

The company is accused of keeping animals alive unnecessarily and causing brain hemorrhages. These revelations prompted a federal investigation into Neuralink’s animal-welfare practices.

The Future of Brain Implants:

Experts stress that extensive testing is crucial to overcome technical and ethical challenges for the widespread use of brain implants.

Musk’s company, despite its ambitious goals, has often overestimated the speed of delivering on promises, indicating the complex nature of advancing brain-computer interface technology.

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