Neuralink: Elon Musk’s controversial brain implant project is ‘ready’

Neuralink: Elon Musk's controversial brain implant project is 'ready'

The SpaceX and Tesla CEO’s new project is finally ready, according to its inventor. Elon Musk estimated this Wednesday, November 30, that his start-up Neuralink would be able to implant its first connected device in the brain of a human within six months.

Communicating with computers directly by thought: the project seems crazy, yet it should be feasible within a few months. The Neuralink brain implant would offer significant potential for treating certain neurological diseases, according to Elon Musk.

But the ultimate goal of the world’s richest man is to ensure humans aren’t intellectually overwhelmed by artificial intelligence systems.

“Obviously we want to be very careful and sure that it will work well, but we have given all our documents to the FDA (the American public health agency, editor’s note) and we believe that within six months we will be able to ‘to have our first implant in a human,’ Elon Musk said during a Neuralink progress review meeting.

PROTOTYPES TESTED ON MONKEYS

“We are now confident that Neuralink’s device is ready for humans, so the timeline depends on the FDA approval process,” he then clarified on Twitter, which he has owned for a month.

The entrepreneur is, however, accustomed to risky predictions. Especially about the autonomy of Tesla electric cars. In July 2019, he estimated that Neuralink could perform its first tests on individuals in 2020.

But so far, the coin-sized prototypes have been implanted in the skulls of animals. Several monkeys are thus able to “play” video games or “type” words on a screen, simply by following the movement of the cursor on the screen with their eyes.

To ensure the deadline, Elon Musk has urged his employees in recent months to accelerate the movement. “We will all be dead before anything useful happens,” he notably criticized his team during a meeting, according to the American agency Bloomberg.

He also recently fired more than half of Twitter’s staff, as well as social network executives who had expressed opinions contrary to his in public, and asked the remaining employees to commit to “extremely intense” work.

In addition to the brain implant, Neuralink is working on several innovations, such as the robot-surgeon and the development of other implants, to be installed in the spinal cord or the eyes, to restore mobility or vision.

The November 30 meeting was also an opportunity to take stock of these latest advances.