Tesla and X CEO Elon Musk's neurotechnology company Neuralink has revealed it is looking for people to trial its brain-computer chip, despite fierce criticism of its 'deadly' animal tests.
The company got the green light from an independent review board to start their brain-computer interface testing on people suffering from paralysis from from cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Musk has previously claimed that his BCI "will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs."
He and his company will now initiate recruitment for the first human trial of its brain implant, but neither stated the number of participants to be enrolled in the trial, which is expected to span approximately six years. During the study, a robot will implant the chip in a brain region responsible for the intention to move. Musk's aim is for the person's thoughts to control a computer cursor or keyboard.
READ MORE: Elon Musk responds to Neuralink implant deaths claiming 'no monkey has died as a result'
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In May, Neuralink announced it had obtained FDA clearance for its first-in-human clinical trial. The company initially wanted to test on 10 humans, but reported FDA concerns saw the number re-visited, although the final figure was not disclosed publically.
Part of the organisation's concerns come from the animal testing of the chip. In April 2021 the company demonstrated its progress by showing a Macaque with one of the Link chips playing Pong. 'Pager' is shown using a joystick, and then only its mind via the wireless connection, according to the company.
However, the animal tests have also yeilded negative press. The company reportedly implanted Bluetooth-enabled chips into the monkey’s brains in an effort to communicate with computers via a small receiver.
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It is thought that the unfortunate test-subjects 'suffered infections from the implanted electrodes placed in their brains'.
Last December, it was reported by The Guardian that around 1,500 animals – including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys – have allegedly died as a result of Neuralink tests since 2018.
Earlier this month, replying to a meme of himself where someone joked that he should take an ethics class after the death of the chimps, Musk said: "No monkey has died as a result of a Neuralink implant."
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