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Co-founder and CEO of Neuralink Elon Musk announced in a recent Wall Street Journal interview that the neurotechnology company will begin human trials of their brain-computer interface next year, saying: “We hope to have this in our first humans, which will be people that have severe spinal cord injuries like tetraplegics, quadriplegics [sometime] next year, pending FDA approval.”
Neuralink was founded and launched in 2016 by Elon and eight other business partners with the sole goal to increase the level of bandwidth the human brain is capable of transferring across neuronal-synapses, by “designing the first neural implant that will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go”.
Human trials were initially scheduled for mid 2020, however the pandemic forced the company to extend out their plans, as all medical experimentation was impeded by severe and unprecedented regulations.
Despite this, analysts continue to criticize Musk over the delay’s, saying it is “on brand for Musk to completely miss self-imposed deadlines”, as reported by Futurism.
Neuralink’s brain interface design has forced the company to develop a new method of insertion, stating on the website that “The threads on the Link are so fine and flexible that they can’t be inserted by the human hand. Instead, we are building a robotic system that the neurosurgeon can use to reliably and efficiently insert these threads exactly where they need to be.”
Though greater brain bandwidth and being able to control your iPhone with your mind does sound exciting, medical experts are more excited about the possibilities for Neuralink to help treat, or one-day completely cure, people with severe spinal cord injuries, helping them to begin walking again.