Elon Musk: “First chip tests in the human brain within the year”
Elon Musk comes out: the first chips in the human brain will be implanted by the end of 2021.
The idea of Tesla’s owner to create a continuous human-machine interface, already tested on monkeys, could soon materialize.
Let’s retrace the steps of a project that fascinates and disturbs.
Elon Musk: chips in the human brain already this year
The statement, as always, was given through what now appears to be the South African entrepreneur’s official media outlet: Twitter. In a twitter, Elon Musk promised that the experiments carried out so far on monkeys will be transferred to the human brain before the end of 2021.
The idea of the SpaceX CEO is to create a permanent connection to the Internet through a chip implanted in the brain, which allows you to communicate with the power of thought. But not only.
The history of the project
The birth of Musk’s ambitious project coincides with the founding of Neuralink, a company based in San Francisco. Neuralink, born in 2016 but only out in the open at the beginning of 2017, immediately revealed its goal: to develop implantable neural interfaces.
The latest developments
After four years of research, it is in the last few months that the speed of Neuralink’s experiments has significantly increased.
Musk himself had declared it, in his now famous appearance on Clubhouse, where he had touched on various topics. Among which, the striking progress of Neuralink.
“We have a monkey with a wireless implant in his skull with small wires, which he can play video games with his mind”. These are the words of Musk. That he continued: “You can’t see where the plant is and it’s a happy monkey. We have the cutest lab monkeys in the world. We want them to play mental pong with each other ”.
And already during the live broadcast on Clubhouse, Elon Musk had mentioned the possibility of implanting chips in the human brain: “There are primitive versions of this device with cables coming out of your head. But it’s like a Fitbit in your skull with little cables going into your brain ”.
Musk’s monkey and mental pong
Musk’s cryptic phrase became a reality a few days ago.
Pager, a nine-year-old macaque with a chip in his brain, played Pong (one of the first video games in history) using only his own mind. In the first half hour he learned the simple rules of the game holding a joystick, but then he continued only thanks to the chip.
And while Pong played, Neuralink experts recorded which brain areas were most involved.
On April 9, the day of the experiment, Mous tweeted: “This product will allow those suffering from paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than those who use their thumbs.. Later versions will be able to divert signals from Neuralinks in the brain to Neuralinks in the body’s motor / sensory neuron clusters, thus allowing paraplegics to walk again, for example. The device is implanted flush with the skull and charges wirelessly, so you feel completely normal. “
Applications in the medical field
Elon Musk’s mention of the applicability of chips in the medical field is not innovative.
In 2017, the year in which Neuralink introduced itself to the general public, Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli, a professor at the University of California at Berkley, spoke. Sangiovanni Vincentelli, interviewed by the Huffington Post, said: “The chips implanted in the brain are already a reality, successfully tested in the biomedical field. Let’s think, for example, of those used for deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients, or those that allow paralyzed patients to move robotic limbs ”.
Musk between science and science fiction
Elon Musk’s project to implant chips in the human brain therefore has a solid scientific basis.
Today used for the treatment of neurological diseases, the chips could in the future pick up impulses from the neurons of people with spinal injuriesto amplify them and redistribute them to the limbs to which they would be destined, functioning as a parallel circuit.
Musk has promised that human brain testing will begin by the end of 2021 by replying to a tweet from user, Hamoon Kamai.. Hamoon wrote: “Hi Elon, I have been thinking for a long time about how to write this message to you, but I will do it very simply. I was in a car accident 20 years ago and have been paralyzed from the shoulders down ever since. I am always available for Neuralink clinical studies ”.
To which, Tesla’s CEO replied: “Neuralink is working very hard to ensure the safety of the facility and is in close communication with the FDA (the US government agency that regulates food and pharmaceuticals). “If things go well, we may be able to do the first tests on humans by the end of the year.”
Somewhere elsein order not to deny his own eccentricity, Musk said that anyone who has a chip implanted in the brain will also enjoy telepathic powers.
In short: once again, the opportunity for technology to support science and medicine is great. The hope is that we focus on the useful and concrete aspects, leaving aside the sensationalist ones. But being Elon Musk, can the two be split?