Musk says Neuralink brain chip that will help the blind to see, paralyzed to walk on cusp of human trials

Elon Musk is announcing a revolutionary jump forward in medical technology as his brain chip company Neuralink expects to begin clinical human trials in six months, focusing on the restoration of vision to those who are blind.

Another medical device application down the road could help those who have been paralyzed walk again.

The Chief Twit held a “Show and Tell” event on Wednesday discussing how the brain chip interfaces will wield miraculous power, allowing disabled patients to move and communicate again.

“It’s like replacing a piece of the skull with a smartwatch,” Musk declared.

(Video Credit: The Verge)

Neuralink’s first two human applications will involve restoring eyesight and enabling movement of muscles in those who are unable to do so, according to Musk.

“Even if someone has never had vision, ever, like they were born blind, we believe we can still restore vision,” he claimed, giving the blind hope of seeing once again – perhaps even for the first time.

DJ Seo, who is Neuralink’s vice president of implants, showed off the latest iteration of the company’s device, claiming that it’ll be wireless and rechargeable. He also shared footage of a robot that he said was built to perform the implant surgery and also ran through a demonstration of what that surgery might look like, noting that manufacturing and a test clinic were being set up in Austin, Texas.

A year ago, Neuralink gave a presentation showcasing a nine-year-old macaque monkey named Pager with an implanted brain chip that could play a computer game simply by thinking about it, according to the Daily Mail.

(Video Credit: The Daily Mail)

Between electric cars, space exploration that includes traveling to and colonizing Mars, revolutionary improvements in transportation and energy, and preserving free speech on Twitter, Musk now aims to add allowing the blind to see and the lame to walk again to his resume.

Neuralink was launched in 2016 and Musk has great plans for the company which has offices based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas. In recent years, the company has been conducting tests on animals and has been seeking U.S. regulatory approval to begin clinical trials in people.

“We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human but we’ve submitted I think most of our paperwork to the FDA and probably in about six months, we should be able to upload Neuralink in a human,” Musk stated.

The event to announce the medical device was scheduled for Oct. 31. Musk postponed it for undisclosed reasons.

Musk’s goal is to develop an interactive chip that will allow the brain to control complex electronic devices and eventually allow people with paralysis to regain motor function and treat brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. He has also discussed combining the human brain with artificial intelligence.

“As miraculous as that may sound, we are confident that it is possible to restore full-body functionality to someone who has a severed spinal cord,” Musk claimed at the event.

Neuralink has missed a number of deadlines and Musk has expressed frustration that the company is not moving fast enough, according to Reuters. He approached his competitor Synchron earlier this year about a potential investment. Synchron has already implanted a device in a patient here in the United States. The company received U.S. regulatory clearance for human trials in 2021 and has completed studies on four people in Australia.

In August 2020, Neuralink held a demonstration with a pig named Gertrude and an early version of the brain chip. As she snuffed in its pen, viewers could see her brain activity displayed on a large screen.

“It’s like a Fitbit in your skull,” Musk remarked during the 2020 event. “It goes flush on your skull. I could have a link right now and you wouldn’t know. Maybe I do.”

Musk also noted during the “show and tell” event that he is looking to recruit talent for Neuralink.

“A lot of the time people think that they couldn’t really work at Neuralink because they don’t know anything about biology or how the brain works,” Musk said. “The thing we really want to emphasize here is that you don’t need to because when you break down the skills that are needed to make Neuralink work, it’s actually many of the same skills that are required to make a smartwatch or modern phone work.”

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