Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of the neurotechnology company Neuralink, has announced that the first human has received an implant from the brain-chip startup and is currently recovering well.
The surgery was not unexpected, as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the company clearance in September for the initial trial of its implant on humans. Musk shared on X, a day after the chip was implanted, that “Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.” Neuron spikes are activities by cells in the brain that use electrical and chemical signals to transmit information.
In the tweets by Musk he mentioned “Telepathy,” Neuralink’s inaugural product, enables users to operate computers and other electronics just by thinking. To enhance communication speed for those facing difficulties, the initial users will be individuals who have lost the use of limbs.
Musk, renowned for making bold claims, underscored the significance of this advancement by stating, “For the brain chip implant community, we must consider this news in the context that while many companies are working on exciting products, only a few others have implanted their devices in humans, placing Neuralink in a rather small group.”
The startup’s study, Prime, is a trial for its wireless brain-computer interface aimed at evaluating the safety and functionality of the implant and surgical robot. The interface enables people with quadriplegia to control devices with their thoughts. Despite Musk’s history of bold claims, experts view this news as a “significant milestone.” However, the long-term success of the Neuralink interface will be evaluated based on stability over time and the benefits to the participant.
Neuralink is also actively engaged in other projects, including Blindsight, focused on aiding in the restoration of eyesight. The company has encountered regulatory challenges, facing recent fines for violating US Department of Transportation rules regarding the movement of hazardous materials.
Neuralink first study received FDA approval last year, and based on private stock trades, the company is valued at approximately $5 billion. The September announcement of the implant experiment involves using a robot to surgically insert ultra-fine threads that send signals into the brains of the patients.