January 29, 2024
**This post has been edited to reflect more recent information**
In an X (formerly known as Twitter) post, Elon Musk announced that Neuralink has successfully implanted its first brain-computer chip into a human. He says the patient is “recovering well.”
Neuralink is a company whose mission is to improve the lives of people with severe mobility challenges. The focus is specifically on quadriplegia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), both of which are debilitating diseases affecting movement intention and control. Neuralink hopes to use their technology in the future to blur the lines between human brain and computer. That is, they aim to bridge the gap between our conscious experience and the digital world.
However, according to recent sources, there is no peer-reviewed evidence to suggest Musk’s implant was a success, nor is there evidence to suggest that the chip was implanted. In addition, although the news has focused on Neuralink, there are scores of other companies developing similar technology: Kernel, MindMaze, EMOTIV, Blackrock Neurotech, and others. Musk’s deception of the IRB in addition to his breech of ethics has, according to The Guardian, resulted in a federal inquiry into Neuralink’s research practice. Perhaps the most concerning, and likely the catalyst of this inquiry, is a report detailing how the company euthanized at least six monkeys at the request of veterinarians due to significant health issues.
There are, of course, ethical standards that must be kept to ensure patients’ privacy is protected. This is especially important given Neuralink’s ultimate goal, which is to allow humans to control technology with their thoughts. The PRIME study, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May, is under supervision from a third-party institutional review board. Still, because this is such an unprecedented leap in human endeavor, there is much to be debated about how to study and use this technology ethically.
For more information, check out: https://neurosciencenews.com/neuralink-human-implant-22542/
AND Neuralink’s website: www.neuralink.com