Will we see brain chips in humans by 2022?

  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021

Musk says that the first human trials of Neuralink chips are scheduled to take place in 2022. — AFP Relaxnews

Elon Musk hopes to be able to implant microchips in the human brain from 2022 via his Neurolink company. The chip, which has already been tested on monkeys, can record and stimulate brain activity. It is intended for medical use. Initially, it could potentially enable people with physical disabilities to recover their abilities to move.

Could Neuralink chips be coming to humans in 2022? In a short interview with The Wall Street Journal at the CEO Council Summit, Elon Musk gave an update on his Neuralink project.

The American entrepreneur announced that Neuralink hopes to begin human trials as soon as 2022. However, it must wait for approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration, which issues mandates to allow the marketing of drugs.

The first human trials have been postponed for several years. A first date was scheduled for late 2020, then pushed back to 2021 and now to 2022. Neuralink has created a microchip device that is implanted directly into the brain to control digital devices or reduce motor disabilities.

“We hope to have this in our first humans – which will be people that have severe spinal-cord injuries like tetraplegics, quadriplegics – next year, pending FDA approval,” said the Neuralink CEO.

“And, I should say, our standards for implanting the device are substantially higher than what the FDA requires. Just as our standards for safety with Tesla are much higher than what the US government requires.”

Electrodes to stimulate the brain

The N1 Link is a 1024-channel device that Neuralink has manufactured for therapeutic use in patients. Once the device is implanted in a patient’s brain, it supposedly transmits data invisibly via a wireless connection.

Neuralink has been conducting trials on monkeys for several years with encouraging results. For example, a video shows a monkey named Pager able to play Pong simply with his mind.

This chip works by implanting electrodes in the area of the brain that controls movement before connecting to a larger network. The system will then process, stimulate and transmit neural signals to control movement. This chip is infinitesimally small and, according to Neuralink, so thin that it cannot be manipulated by human hands. That’s why the company is also developing robots that can place the chips in the exact location of the brain.

Elon Musk is cautiously optimistic about the future of the N1 Link. He thinks Neuralink’s device could help people with severe spinal cord injuries. In the long run, these chips could have even more amazing functionality. Watch this space. – AFP Relaxnews

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