At Musk's 'Show and Tell,' New Demo of Brain Implant Device

Billionaire says human trials of device from his Neuralink company are imminent
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2022 8:34 AM CST

Elon Musk held a "show and tell" event Wednesday night, but it had nothing to do with his most recent Twitter troubles. Instead, the billionaire showed off a brain implant device developed by one of this other companies, Neuralink—a device he says will link the human brain to a computer, and that could possibly be used in human trials in as little as six months from now, reports the New York Times. "We are now confident that the Neuralink device is ready for humans," Musk tweeted after the California event, adding that the timing will come down to how quickly the Food and Drug Administration approves it. He says "most" of the needed paperwork has been submitted to the FDA. In a demo shown by CNET, Musk showed a video of one of Neuralink's test monkeys, which had been fitted with the wireless, rechargeable implant, using its mind to control a cursor and type words on a computer.

"Technically, it can't actually spell ... so I don't want to oversell this thing," Musk joked during the presentation, which also showed video of a robot that would be tasked with performing the brain implant surgery. Although CNN Business notes the technology isn't new—devices that work off of brain signals have been in development for decades, and they've already been tested on humans—Musk apparently held the event for recruiting purposes, as he wants to bolster Neuralink's workforce. He said that interested parties who aren't sure they know enough "about biology or how the brain works" shouldn't let that lack of knowledge stop them from applying. "You don't need to, because when you break down the skills that are needed to make Neuralink work, it's actually many of the same skills that are required to make a smartwatch or modern phone work," he assured potential applicants.

Whether or not Neuralink workers should have some knowledge about how brains work before going to work for a company developing a brain implant device, there's other controversy already swirling around Neuralink's new product: At least one monkey died during testing, angering animal activists and adding to the "numerous ethical and sociopolitical questions" underlying the concept, per CNN. Neuroscience experts also tell the Times there don't seem to be major improvements upon previous iterations of the device, which Musk has vowed will "solve" conditions such as insomnia, paralysis, and blindness. Safety issues also need to be addressed. Multiple other companies and researchers have already received an FDA thumbs-up to study similar devices in humans. Neuralink's device has so far been tested on primates, sheep, and pigs only, notes the Times. (More Neuralink stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.