Neuralink Corp. is ready to implant computer chips in human brains within six months, the company’s co-founder Elon Musk said at an event held at its headquarters in Fremont, California, the US, on the evening of 30 November.

But regulatory approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have to be sought before the company can actually begin human trials of the coin-sized chip.

According to Neuralink, the tiny device which has electrode-laced wires can help disabled patients to move and communicate.

What Elon Musk said about Neuralink brain chip

Everything depends on FDA approval

Neuralink Elon Musk
Musk at an earlier Neuralink presentation. (Image credit: Steve Jurvetson – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/50280652497/CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia Commons)

“We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human but we’ve submitted I think most of our paperwork to the FDA and we think probably in about six months we should be able to have our first Neuralink in a human,” Musk, the company’s CEO, said at the event, as per Reuters.

In a tweet posted after the event in response to a report by Bloomberg journalist Ashlee Vance, Musk said that his company is now “confident that the Neuralink device is ready for humans.”

He added that the six month time-frame depends on the FDA approval.

According to Reuters, Neuralink has two human applications as its first priority —muscle movement for those who can’t and restoration of vision.

“Even if someone has never had vision, ever, like they were born blind, we believe we can still restore vision,” Musk said.

More about Neuralink and its experiments

Neuralink was co-founded by Musk — whose Twitter acquisition has left users divided — in 2016 with Max Hodak, Paul Merolla, and Phillip Sabes and at least four others. A 2017 The Wall Street Journal report made its existence public,

“We’re aiming to design a fully implantable, cosmetically invisible brain-computer interface to let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go. Micron-scale threads would be inserted into areas of the brain that control movement. Each thread contains many electrodes and connects them to an implant called the ‘Link’,” Neuralink explains on its official site.

The company has for some time been testing its brain chip on animals, which have allegedly resulted in the deaths of some of them. But it has also been able to display advancements, such as a monkey with a Neuralink implant playing a video game with its mind.

The chip is placed in the skull by Neuralink robots, which carry out a small surgery involving removal of a part of the skull in order to plant the interface.

As per Bloomberg, Neuralink has been refining the product and its discussions with FDA have “gone well enough for the company to set a target” for the human trials.

(Main image: Patrick Pleul/POOL/AFP; Featured image: Leijurv – Own work/CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons)

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Manas Sen Gupta

Manas enjoys reading detective fiction and writing about anything that interests him. When not doing either of the two, he checks Instagram for the latest posts by travellers. Winter is his favourite season and he can happily eat a bowl of noodles any time of the day.