The dystopian future is near – Elon Musk is one step closer to chipping our brains

The billionaire’s brain chip firm has received approval to conduct tests on humans.

No, this isn’t the opening sequence to a sci-fi blockbuster, Elon Musk has actually started work on brain-chipping humans. His brain chip firm has said it’s received approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to conduct its first test. 

The billionaire’s company is called Neuralink and is said to want to help restore people’s vision and mobility by connecting the human brain to a computer. Apparently the plans to recruit participants are not immediate, but given the earlier bid by Neuralink to get FDA approval failed (according to a report in march by Reuters), this win may see the tests start soon.

Neuralink is aiming to use this microchipping to treat conditions like paralysis and blindness. Experts have spoken out and said that the company’s plans to test these implants will require way more extensive testing before this is properly carried out. Questions of ethics will come into play before they are open to public use. The chips have been previously tested in monkeys, and will work via Bluetooth to relay information from the motor system to the brain.

The company has spoken out to say that this will “represent an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people.” They added that further information will be out soon regarding recruitment to the clinical trials. Musk tweeted out his congratulations to the team. 

On their website, their mission reads: “Create a generalised brain interface to restore autonomy to those with unmet medical needs today and unlock human potential tomorrow.” Co-founded by Musk in 2016, alongside Max Hodak, the team’s initial goal was to plant the chips into the brains of humans in 2020, which was then changed to 2022, and the speed at which they bring their plans to life has been overestimated numerous times. 

Last December it was reported to Reuters that one of the setbacks was due to an ongoing investigation regarding animal welfare violations. The allegations were denied. A similar scientific venture received FDA approval for human tests by Swiss researchers. The results saw a paralysed man from the Netherlands able to walk with the chip tapping into his thoughts. 

The field of implants is rather crowded, with companies like Synchronic, Medtronic, NeuroPace and Blackrock Neurotech all testing the chips, with some receiving FDA approval and already testing on humans. There have already been multiple investigations into the work of Neuralink, and their rush to get human testing passed before they are ready means all eyes will be on this next round of advances. It looks like there is a scientific race on to who will perfect the brain chip first. 

WriterElla Chadwick