Elon Musk's Neuralink shows prototype brain implant and robotic surgeon at recruiting event |  CNN Business

Elon Musk’s Neuralink shows prototype brain implant and robotic surgeon at recruiting event | CNN Business

CNN Business

Elon Musk — the founder of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla and, most recently, owner of Twitter — hosted a flashy event Wednesday night for another of his companies: Neuralink, the startup offering implants that connect your brain to a computer.

The event featured a video that Musk said showed a monkey using a brain implant to control a cursor and type on a computer.

It’s not brand new technology, as researchers have been working on devices that can decode brain signals for practical purposes for decades. For example, allowing a person to type words or play video games with only their brain has already been done.

Musk noted during the “show and tell” event that the main focus of the night was recruiting talent for Neuralink.

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

DJ Seo, vice president of implants at Neuralink, introduced the company’s latest iteration of the device, noting that it will be wireless and rechargeable. He also shared images of a robot he said was built to perform the implant surgery and also showed a demonstration of what the surgery could look like, noting that manufacturing and a test clinic were being installed in Austin, TX.

Musk started Neuralink more than five years ago with the aim of developing technologies that could improve the connection between humans and computers by implanting chips in people’s brains. So far, the company has only tested on animals.

Last year, for example, Neuralink said it was able to allow monkeys to play the video game Pong using only their brain implants, although something similar has already been accomplished in a human with an implant. cerebral more than a decade ago. Musk touted footage of the monkey playing Pong again on Wednesday.

Elon Musk's Neuralink says this monkey plays Pong with his mind.

The use of animals, however, has angered activists. The company acknowledged that one monkey died during the testing process.

“We’re doing everything we can with rigorous bench testing so that we’re not cavalier about introducing devices into animals,” Musk said Wednesday.

The central idea behind Neuralink raises many ethical and sociopolitical questions. But proponents say such devices provide life-changing help to amputees and people with disabilities if, for example, they lose the ability to use their hands or see.

Musk, however, also tends to emphasize non-medical uses, such as using brain implants to level the playing field, if digital artificial intelligence becomes smarter than any human.

“How do we mitigate this risk? At the species level? Musk asked Wednesday. “Even in a benign scenario, where the AI ​​is very, very benevolent – so how are we doing for the ride?”

Musk’s Neuralink isn’t the only organization pursuing the technology. And some federally funded researchers are already doing clinical trials.

At Wednesday’s event, Musk was asked if Neuralink plans to make its tools available to neuroscientists. He replied that the company would do so after reaching the production phase.

Before Neuralink’s brain implants are mass-produced and reach the wider market, they will need regulatory approval. The US Food and Drug Administration published an article in May last year outlining the agency’s early thoughts on brain-computer interface devices, noting that the field is “progressing rapidly”.

Musk said Wednesday that Neuraink has submitted “most” of his paperwork to the FDA and could begin human testing within six months. It’s worth noting, however, that Musk frequently touts timelines that don’t materialize, from his claims about when SpaceX would get its Mars rocket into space to his predictions about when self-driving cars would be on the road.

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