Elon Musk’s Neuralink project worries scientists a lot

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A direct neural interface is the promise ofElon Musk to help people with disabilities. As his company Neuralink prepares for the first human trials (after tests on pigs and monkeys), The Daily Beast interviewed scientists who expressed concerns about such a project.

Laura Cabrera, a neuroethics specialist at Pennsylvania State University, wonders if it will be possible to remove the implants without damaging the brain. ” If it goes wrong, we really don’t have the technology for them. “explant”. And what is the duration life of a implant ? Will Neuralink offer upgrades afterward to participants?

Will Neuralink be able to keep its promises?

For Karola Keritmair, Assistant Professor of Medical History and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, future commercial spillovers are an issue. ” I worry about an uncomfortable marriage between a for-profit company…and these medical interventions that are hopefully there to help people. Neuralink says it is developing its implant to help people with disabilities, but the market is quite small, which may pose profitability issues.

A neural interface direct could interest the general public in order to control devices with the brain, for example to drive his Tesla with the thought. ” But then all of these human subjects – people with real needs – are exploited and used in risky research for someone else’s commercial gain. worries L. Syd Johnson of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities from Suny Upstate Medical University.

It also expresses doubts about the objectives announced by the firm. ” If Neuralink claims that they will be able to use their device for therapeutic purposes to help people with disabilities, they are making unrealistic promises because they are far from having the capacity. »

What will happen to the collected data?

Scientists are also concerned about the use of information collected by the implant. Who will have access to it, and what will become of the data in the event of a takeover of Neuralink? There is also the question of the safety of the device, namely the risks hacking and the devastating consequences for the victim if a malicious individual takes control of their implant. If this kind of technology were to become widespread, what about the diversion by governments or corporations for the mass surveillance ?

The scientists interviewed are not necessarily opposed to the technology, but are especially wary of the many possible abuses and hope that the notoriety of the project will force Neuralink to be very careful to do everything by the rules. The implant has the potential to change the lives of paralyzed people, and Elon Musk’s firm isn’t the only one working on the neural interfaces.

Neuralink: the first human trials will begin in 2022, according to Elon Musk

Nothing seems to stop the visionary Elon Musk, boss of Tesla and SpaceX, which plans, with its company Neuralink, the implantation of chips in the brain of humans from 2022. Initially, these brain implants will be intended for people with disabilities to allow them to control a computer by thought. The merger of Man with the machine is running.

Futura article with ETX Daily Up agency published on 10/12/2021

Elon Musk hopes to be able to, via his Neurolink company, implant chips in the human brain from 2022. This chip, already tested on monkeys, can record and stimulate brain activity. It is intended for medical use. Initially, it should allow people with disabilities physical to recover their ability to movement.

In a short interview with Elon Musk at wall street journal on the occasion of the Summit of the Council of CEOs, the American entrepreneur gave an update on his Neuralink project. The CEO announced that Neuralink hopes to begin human trials as early as 2022. However, he must wait for the approval of the Food and Drug Administration which issues warrants to authorize the marketing of drugs.

The first human trials have been postponed for several years. A first date was scheduled for the end of 2020, then pushed back to 2021 and now to 2022. Neuralink has created an electronic chip device directly implanted in the brain to control digital devices or to reduce movement disabilities.

We hope to be able to implant this device in our first humans – who will be people with severe spinal cordlike the tetraplegics or some quadriplegics – next year, subject to FDA approvalsaid the CEO of Neuralink. And, I have to say, our standards for implanting the device are significantly higher than those of the FDA. Just as our safety standards with Tesla are much higher than required by the US government “.

Pager, a 9-year-old monkey, plays Pong with his mind. © Neuralink

The brain stimulated by electrodes

The N1 Link is a 1,024 channel device that Neuralink has manufactured for the therapeutic use of patients. Once the device is implanted in a patient’s brain, it’s supposed to transmit data invisibly via a wireless connection. Neuralink has been testing monkeys for several years with encouraging results.

A video shows, for example, a monkey named Pager able to play Pong simply with his mind. Amazing! This chip works by implanting electrodes in the region of brain which checks movements before connecting to a larger network. The system will then process, stimulate and transmit neural signals to control movement.

This chip is infinitely small, so thin that human hands cannot handle them

This chip is infinitely small and, according to Neuralink, so thin that human hands cannot handle them. This is why the company is developing robots in parallel capable of placing them at the exact location of the brain.

Elon Musk is cautiously optimistic about the future of the N1 Link. He thinks the Neuralink device could help people with severe brain damage. spinal cord. In the long run, these chips could have even more amazing functionality. But for now, the promises are getting longer…


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