Elon Musk's Neuralink Ready for Human Testing

    Elon Musk's Neuralink Ready for Human Testing
    Last updated Dec 01, 2022
    Image credit: Getty Images [via The Economic Times]


    • Elon Musk announced on Wednesday that his startup, Neuralink Corp., should be ready to test its brain implant technology on humans within the next six months.[1]
    • Neuralink hopes the implant devices will restore vision, as well as the ability to move and communicate in people with severe disabilities, by decoding brain activity. In the future, Neuralink aims to open facilities where robot surgeons will implant the devices.[1]
    • Neuralink shared a preview of the announcement on its Twitter account ahead of the annual "Show and Tell" event. The first Show and Tell event for the company in 2020 demonstrated the technology using a pig; last year's event used a monkey who played a video game with only its mind.[2]
    • Following the live stream, Musk said, "we are now confident that the Neuralink device is ready for humans, so timing is a function of working through the FDA-approval process." During the event, he stated most of the paperwork has been submitted to begin the approval process, which is expected to conclude in time for testing in the next six months.[3]
    • Some experts have concerns about animal welfare during Neuralink's testing phase. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine obtained lab notes on the experiments that described several animals "repeatedly vomiting, gasping, retching and had very little interaction with environment/observers."[2]
    • Musk is currently managing several entrepreneurial ventures, including Tesla, his electric vehicle brand, SpaceX, his aerospace company, and social media giant Twitter.[4]


    Narrative A

    Musk's futurist vision of humans is dangerous and reckless. Previously, he has been afraid of the idea of deep artificial intelligence — now he's taking a sharp turn toward the merging of humans and AI. This venture is likely to benefit the privileged at the higher and more professional levels of society, ultimately putting democracy at risk.

    Narrative B

    Neuralink is a well-funded and legitimate venture and those with disabilities should follow the company's success closely. The brain implant mission will be transformative for humans on the fronts of both medicine and artificial intelligence. Musk sees a future where the limitations of the human body and the human mind can be overcome to expose the full potential of humanity and propel society forward toward greatness.

    Cynical narrative

    Musk says he wants to test his brain implants on humans in six months. Don't trust his word. Historically, he has been lousy with deadlines. He previously said he wanted to test in humans in 2022, but that isn't happening. In 2011, he said he wanted to put people in space within three years, and the first manned SpaceX mission didn't occur until 2020. His failure to retain qualified staff in important positions doesn't bode well for his six-month goal, so this issue may be farther off in the future than it seems.

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