Under the supervision of a neuroscientist, a robot carefully implants ultra-fine threads, finer than hair, into the brain of its subject to collect neuron activity and using this data to control machines. This is the new project of mysterious Neuralink, an American neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk and recently revealed by Musk himself on 16 July.
According to Musk, the company has experimented on 19 animals including monkeys and rats, reporting a success of 87%, and gathering information from 1500 neurons, all at once using fibres in their brains implanted by drilling 8mm holes in their skulls. These wires transmitted data to an implant behind the ear, which transferred the information to a computer.
Now, it aspires to use humans in its experiments by the second quarter of 2020. However, the company may need to justify to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an agency responsible for public health, why they think these experiments are important enough to have human subjects. According to Musk, this technology allows humans’ greater involvement in the digital world and will help them to compete with AI in a world where artificial intelligence has surpassed them. According to Matthew McDougal, Neuralink’s head neurosurgeon, the system will only be used in helping people who suffer from unmet medical diseases. Whichever of the two, Neuralink needs to convince the FDA to be able to have human subjects in their experiments.
This news is covered by Zainab Mubasher.