After receiving the green light from the FDA last year, a Neuralink chip has been implanted into a human in a revolutionary first. The announcement came from Elon Musk himself on his social media platform, X. Musk is the founder of Neuralink, though he does not actively hold an executive position at the company. The tweet was short and didn’t divulge much, but it seems the operation has been a success.
What is Neuralink?
Neuralink is one of the most ambitious projects eccentric billionaire Elon Musk has ever fathered. His record includes super quick electric cars, autonomous driving, and rockets that can land back on Earth, amongst other notable achievements. Neuralink, like the projects mentioned above, is a science fiction concept trying to be made a reality.
The company envisions an implantable brain-computer interface. This interface will allow users to control devices using just their thoughts. Musk hopes this technology will one day let people experience completely alien realities. The company lauds its product as “cosmetically invisible”, which would translate to many more potential customers.
The First Neuralink human test run is a go
The FDA gave Neuralink permission last year to begin recruiting human testers. Candidates with quadriplegia and ALS were preferred for the trial runs. Neuralink had mentioned then that their initial goal would be allowing users to “control” a keyboard and computer cursor. Understandably, it’s no surprise the company saw many willing candidates hoping for a solution to their disabilities. On January 30th, 2024, Elon Musk tweeted the following:
The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well.
Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2024
That’s not much to go on, but it seems the operation was a success. “promising neuron spike detection” possibly alludes to the chip functioning within acceptable and expected parameters.
Reception to the news
Neuralink has always had its fair share of critics, and there was no shortage of people citing their skepticism. These critics only gained more fuel when the company’s initial tests on monkeys led to some serious complications. For example, the test subjects had suffered from seizures, brain swelling, and paralysis. Elon Musk later confirmed that no monkey had actually died from a Neuralink implant.
As expected, memes also flooded the replies to Musk’s tweet above. This isn’t surprising, especially considering Musk himself often tweets out memes. Lastly, as is unavoidable nowadays, lots of users also brought politics into the conversation.
If the first human tester recovers well and Neuralink does its job, it could signal a completely new age of transhumanism. It would also mean that, as Neuralink and similar technologies improve, many more uses will start opening up. And lastly, this technology has the potential to revolutionize the entertainment industry completely. VR headsets will be looked at as a crude tool from a bygone era if Neuralink becomes what Musk wants it to become.
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