Neuralink, the brain implant company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has recently gained approval from an independent review board to initiate the recruitment of human participants for a brain implant trial. This groundbreaking development follows Neuralink’s previous announcement in May, where they revealed their intention to begin human testing after securing FDA acquisition.
According to a blog post from the California-based neurotechnology company, the primary objective of these human trials is to assess the safety and functionality of their brain-computer interface (BCI) known as “the Link.” Neuralink’s overarching mission is to develop implantable devices that empower users to control various functions using their thoughts. It is worth noting that Neuralink is just one of several companies working on brain interface devices, despite the futuristic nature of the technology.
In their announcement, the company stated, “The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.” While this advancement holds promise, it’s important to acknowledge that Neuralink’s “first-in-human clinical trials” carry substantial risks for participants, as highlighted by the Mashable website.
Neuralink has faced significant criticism in the past, particularly for their experimentation on lab animals. In February 2022, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine lodged a complaint, alleging invasive and lethal brain experiments by Neuralink. By December of the same year, federal authorities were investigating the company for potential violations of animal welfare standards, with reports suggesting that around 1,500 animals, including rats, monkeys, pigs, and mice, had been used in experiments since 2018.
In response to these serious allegations, Neuralink defended its actions, claiming that they treated the rhesus macaque monkeys under their care with utmost respect and honour. Musk even took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to assert that no monkeys had died as a result of a Neuralink implant.
Although the announcement did not specify the start date for these trials, it did indicate that individuals with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may qualify to participate in the trial, as per reports.