Elon Musk says Neuralink has implanted a wireless brain chip
- Written by Patrick Jackson and Tom Gerken
- BBC News
Tech billionaire Elon Musk has claimed that his company Neuralink has successfully implanted one of its wireless brain chips into humans.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said that “promising” brain activity had been detected after the operation and that the patient was “recovering well.”
The company’s goal is to connect human brains to computers to help treat complex neurological conditions.
A number of competing companies have already implanted similar devices.
Professor Anne VanHostenberg, from King’s College London, said: “For any company producing medical devices, the first test in humans is a major milestone.”
“For the brain chip implant community, we must put this news in the context that while there are many companies working on exciting products, there are only a few others that have implanted their devices in humans, so Neuralink has joined a small group to Somewhat “.
However, she also noted the need for caution because “true success” can only be assessed in the long term.
“We know that Elon Musk is very skilled at generating publicity for his company,” she added.
This was achieved by implanting electronic implants in his brain and spine that wirelessly transmitted thoughts to his legs and feet.
Musk’s claims have not been independently verified, nor has Neuralink provided any information about the action he says took place.
BBC News has contacted both Neuralink and the US medical regulatory body, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for comment.
Neuralink has been criticized in the past, with Reuters reporting in December 2022 that the company was involved in tests that resulted in the death of nearly 1,500 animals, including sheep, monkeys and pigs.
In July 2023, the head of the US Department of Agriculture – which is investigating animal welfare concerns – said it had found no violations of animal research rules at the company.
However, a separate investigation is still being conducted by the agency.
That gave the green light to begin the six-year study, during which the robot will be used to surgically place 64 flexible threads, thinner than a human hair, over the part of the brain that controls “motor intention,” according to the researchers. Neuralink.
The company says these leads allow its experimental implant — powered by a battery that can be charged wirelessly — to record and transmit brain signals wirelessly to an app that decodes how a person intends to move.
Professor Tara Spiers-Jones, President of the British Neuroscience Society, said: “It has great potential to help people with neurological disorders in the future, and is an excellent example of how basic neuroscience research can be harnessed to achieve medical progress.”
“However, most of these interfaces require invasive neurosurgery and are still in experimental stages, so it will likely be many years before they become commonly available.”
He said telepathy would enable you to “control your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking.”
He continued: “The first users will be those who have lost the ability to use their limbs.”
While Musk’s involvement raises Neuralink’s profile, some of his competitors have track records dating back two decades. Blackrock Neurotech, a Utah-based company, implanted the first of many brain-computer interfaces in 2004.
Precision Neuroscience, founded by Neuralink’s co-founder, also aims to help people with paralysis. Its implantation process resembles a very thin piece of tape that is placed on the surface of the brain and can be implanted through a “small incision in the skull,” a much simpler procedure.
Existing devices have also generated results. In two separate recent US scientific studies, implants were used to monitor brain activity when a person tries to speak, which can then be decoded to help them communicate.