Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk announced that mind-reading brain implants by his startup Neuralink Corp. will be ready to test on humans in about six months.
Musk forecasted the milestone Wednesday night at a “Neuralink Show and Tell” event to share the company’s progress.
“Obviously we want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device in a human,” he said. “But we’ve submitted, I think, most of our paperwork to the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], and we think probably in about six months we should be able to have our first Neuralink in a human.”
In a tweet during the event, Musk said the startup is “confident” the device is “ready for humans, so timing is a function of working through the FDA approval process.”
Neuralink is creating a small chip that can be embedded with brains to create “a direct link between the brain and everyday technology,” as described on its website. The initial goal is to help people overcome paralysis and restore lost senses, but Musk has also hyped the possibility of mind-to-mind communication.
The company is also developing a “surgical robot” to thread wires into the brain after a portion of the patient’s skull has been removed.
During a Q&A session with Neuralink employees at the event, the company said it’s working to address FDA concerns about the device overheating, as well as toxic chemicals leaching into the brain, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Neuralink has already been conducting clinical trials on animals, including primates, for several years. The company came under fire earlier this year for alleged abuse and grotesque deaths of monkeys it experimented on, which the company denied.
During the “show and tell,” Musk showed a video of a Neuralink-implanted monkey doing “telepathic typing” – moving a computer cursor with its mind over highlighted letters on a keyboard.
“[The monkey] actually likes doing the demo and is not like, strapped to the chair or anything,” Musk said while the video played. “Our monkeys are pretty happy.”