Neuralink implants first brainchip in human 

Founder Elon Musk says initial results promising in first step for tech that aims to let us control devices with the power of thought. 

This week, Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of brainchip start-up Neuralink, posted to X (formerly Twitter) that, ‘The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well. Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.’ 

human anatomy model

Photo by David Matos

Neurons are the cells that use chemical and electrical signals to send information around the brain and body – such as to move in any particular way. The hope is to use the same process so that users fitted with implants can control devices and robots with just their thoughts. The ultimate aim is a wireless brain-computer interface. 

That, of course, could have huge implications for those living with paralysis or other conditions. 

Neuralink was given clearance last year by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct its first trial implanting the technology into humans. In September, a statement from the company said that the trial would involve a specially developed robot surgically placing the ultra-fine threads of the implant in the participant’s brain.  

Many scientists with expert knowledge in this area agree that this first trial is important – but also urge caution in reading too much into what been announced, given the lack (so far) of further detail on exactly was was involved and how successful it’s been. 

Anne Vanhoestenberghe, Professor of Active Implantable Medical Devices at King’s College London, says: ‘For any company producing medical devices, the first test in human is a significant milestone. For the brain chip implant (BCI) community, we must place this news in the context that whilst there are many companies working on exciting products, there are only a few other companies who have implanted their devices in humans, so Neuralink has joined a rather small group. 

‘Neuralink have not published information about their participant, nor about the specific aim of the trial. I expect Neuralink will want to give the participant time to recover before they start training their system with the participant. True success in my mind should be evaluated in the long-term, by how stable the interface is over time, and how much it benefits the participant.’ 

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AI Safety Institute (AISI) now recruiting 

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