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Forward-looking: Neuralink's mission is to use groundbreaking brain-machine interfaces to possibly cure deadly neurological diseases and control our devices simply using our minds. The company may be taking a major step in that direction if the FDA approves human trials this year as Elon Musk suggests. The company has already experimented successfully on primates and pigs.
Elon Musk launched Neuralink back in 2017 with the goal of direct communication between the human brain and machines.
While the technology being developed is certainly interesting and carries many applications, the company has yet to experiment on humans. That could change as Musk recently said that Neuralink could receive FDA approval to start human trials as early as this year.
The SpaceX and Tesla CEO dropped that little bit of news in response to a Twitter user offering to be part of any clinical studies for Neuralink due to being paralyzed.
Neuralink is working super hard to ensure implant safety & is in close communication with the FDA. If things go well, we might be able to do initial human trials later this year.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 1, 2021
Providing the disabled with a way to move again would be excellent application of Neuralink's technology. Other neurological conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease could potentially be cured or at least made substantially less deadly. That said, the company's long term goals seem to be "human/AI symbiosis" according to Musk.
Musk recently went on a talk show hosted on Clubhouse called the Good Time Show where he revealed some of Neuralink's advances. "We've already got a monkey with a wireless implant in their skull, and the tiny wires, who can play video games using his mind," Musk said. "He's not uncomfortable and he doesn't look weird and you can't even see where the neural implant went in."
Last August, the company held a live demo of its technology, showcasing the ability to predict the movement of a pig while it was on a treadmill. The primary difference is that the chip inside of the monkey was wireless while the pig was still wired. This is a vital step if the company wishes to implant a chip in human subjects.
We're obviously years away from human cyborgs, but the ability to test on humans would mark a huge step for the company. The long term health benefits and promise of such technology are tremendous.