Neuralink has obtained permission from the FDA to begin clinical trials on humans , Elon Musk announced on Twitter in a decision that may come as a surprise since only three months ago the US regulator had denied it in a rather blunt ruling .
Neuralink is one of Elon Musk’s many projects. Forget Twitter, Tesla self-driving cars, the StarLink space internet and even traveling to Mars with Space X, because this medical research company is the billionaire’s most advanced as it aims to connect human brains with Artificial Intelligence under “neural loops”.
The idea is not new and is based on the brain-computer interface , a technology based on the acquisition of brain waves that are then processed and interpreted by a machine or computer. Technology manages to find a natural channel of interaction between man and machine and, also, access to all human cognitive and emotional information. As an example, you will remember the science fiction movie Transcendence where the great Johnny Depp builds a self-sufficient computer that ends up creating a technological singularity and the consequent botch.
The declared objectives of Neuralink say to pursue the treatment of diseases for which until now medical science has not found any solution, such as Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s or paralysis due to traffic accidents or others. A tremendously hopeful project on paper. The problem, as with everything that is coming up with AI, is the general distrust of how it will be used and how far they intend to go because creating brain-machine hybrids is quite scary.
And it is that Musk wants to go beyond medical applications in paralysis or neurodegenerative diseases and believes that in the future humans must merge with artificial intelligence if they do not want to end up becoming “something useless and unnecessary” .
Neuralink has a free hand
“We are pleased to announce that we have received FDA approval to launch our first human clinical study!” , says Musk’s tweet, in which he acknowledges the work of the researchers and “represents an important first step that will one day allow” this technology to help many people.
We are excited to share that we have received the FDA’s approval to launch our first-in-human clinical study!
This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our…
— Neuralink (@neuralink) May 25, 2023
Human tests will be developed by neuroscientists at Stanford University and come after animal tests. We suppose that the tests will be much more exhaustive… When Musk assured that the Neuralink monkeys “were happy and played video games” it was not known that some of them would end up dead and with their brains destroyed.
To say that Neuralink is being investigated for possible animal welfare violations and the illegal transport of dangerous pathogens in chips extracted from monkey brains without adequate containment measures. And the concerns of scientists who say that Neuralink is not yet ready to carry out such ambitious research are on the air.
The project is exciting to combat some diseases, but very dangerous depending on which hands. I love machines, but I don’t want to become a homo digitalis , as my colleague David well defined when raising the problems of these technologies .