Musk’s Neuralink ‘Approached Partner’ For Human Trials

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Elon Musk brain implant company Neuralink reportedly approached major US neurosurgery centre for potential human trials

Elon Musk-owned brain implant company Neuralink has reportedly approached a major US neurosurgery centre as a potential partner in human clinical trials, should they be approved by regulators.

The firm has been in talks with Barrow Neurological Institute, a Phoenix, Arizona neurological treatment and research organisation, for the potential trials, Reuters reported, citing six unnamed sources.

Neuralink has been developing brain implants since 2016 and Musk has said he believes they will one day be as common as laser eye surgery.

The technology is intended to treat conditions such as paralysis and blindness by creating a direct digital connection with the brain, known as a brain computer interface (BCI).

Human trials

Early last year the US Food and Drug Administration rejected Neuralink’s application to progress to human trials, citing major safety concerns, according to a Reuters report earlier this month.

Neuralink has been working since then to gain approval, although it is unclear if and when it will be able to do so.

In December of last year Musk said he hoped human trials would begin within six months.

Barrow declined to comment on the talks but told Reuters it would be well-positioned to carry out such trials due to its previous track record with brain implants.

The centre works with deep brain stimulation devices, approved by the FDA in 1997, which are designed to help reduce Parkinson’s tremors and have been implanted in more than 175,000 patients.

EEG ‘Crown’

So far no company has been given US regulatory approval for BCI implants.

Earlier this month former Musk partner Claire Boucher, known as Grimes, said she had received a non-invasive brain implant from Neurosity for her 35th birthday.

Neurosity confirmed Grimes had received one of its Crown devices, which are based on electroencephalogram (EEG) technology.

The Crown is designed to provide auditory or haptic feedback to users in order to keep them alert, but some users say they have tweaked the devices to be able to trigger other events, such as making a Tesla drive toward them or, as in Grimes’ case, moving a computer cursor.

AI-brain link

Musk recently commented that one day Neuralink would be able to allow human brains to link to AI tools, prompting sceptical comments from social media users.

Billy Markus, known on Twitter as Shibetoshi Nakamoto, who co-created popular crypto-token Doge in 2013, said in an ironic post that now “AI can do everything”, referring to the popularity of so-called generative AI that can produce images and text from prompts.

After another user’s suggested Neuralink chips with AI could learn things for human users and then transmit the knowledge into their brains, Markus said the result could be something like in the film The Matrix, in which Keanu Reeves’ character links to a computer system and wakes up knowing kung fu.