Elon Musk says Neuralink’s first human test subject can control computer mouse with brain implant

(CNN)- Elon Musk claimed the first participant in a Neuralink human trial could control a computer mouse with his brain, about a month after he was implanted with the company’s chip. But details are scarce, and other companies working on brain-computer interfaces have so far overcome greater technical hurdles than Neuralink.

Musk, the owner of a controversial brain chip startup, said in a conversation, “Progress is good, it seems that the patient has completely recovered … and controlling the mouse, moving the cursor around the screen just by thinking.” Is capable of.” An X Spaces event on Monday night.

“We’re trying to push as many buttons as possible by thinking, so that’s what we’re currently working on: Can we get left mouse, right mouse, mouse down, mouse up?” “Which is a must if you want to click and drag something, you have to hold down the cursor,” he said.

Musk said last month that the company had completed its first chip implantation surgery in a human test subject, after getting approval last year to study the safety and functionality of its chip implantation and surgical devices in humans.

In the trial, patients will have a chip surgically implanted in the part of the brain that controls the urge to move. The chip, installed by the robot, will record brain signals and send to an application, the initial goal of which is to “provide people with the ability to control a computer’s cursor or keyboard using only their thoughts,” the company wrote in September. .

The early success of the first human trials of brain chip technology could mark a major milestone in Neuralink’s efforts to bring potentially life-changing technology out of the lab and into the real world, especially for people who struggle with walking or communicating. Are incapable.

However, Musk has provided few details and no evidence about the outcome of the operation, so it is not yet clear to what extent the transplant represents a significant scientific advance.

Neuralink did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ultimately, Neuralink’s ambition is to use implants to connect the human brain to computers, allowing, for example, paralyzed people to control smartphones or computers, or blind people to regain their vision. Like existing brain-machine interfaces, the company’s implant will collect electrical signals sent by the brain and interpret them as actions.

Musk said last month that the company’s first product would be called Telepathy, adding that its initial users would be people who have lost the use of their limbs.

He wrote, “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a typist or an auctioneer. That’s the goal.”

One thing is clear: consumers will not have widespread access to this technology in the near future. Before Neuralink brain implants can reach the general market, they will need approval from regulatory authorities.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink aims to one day allow humans to control computers with their brains. Gabby Jones/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Other companies doing similar work are further along in the research process; For example, a company called Synchron has been enrolling and transplanting people in its trial since 2021.

Sykron said earlier this year that the first human tests of its brain implant device, all of whom had previously suffered from “severe paralysis,” were able to use the device to perform “routine digital activities” such as controlling a personal computer for texting and emailing. Were able to do. And online shopping.

Neuralink faced scrutiny when a monkey died in 2022 during an attempt to make the animal play Pong, an early video game. In December 2022, employees told Reuters that the company was rushing to market, leading to negligent animal deaths and leading to a federal investigation.

But in May last year, Neuralink got FDA approval to conduct clinical trials in humans, and a few months later the startup launched a new treatment for quadriplegia caused by cervical spinal cord injury, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Started admitting patients.)

The company explained that this trial is part of what Neuralink calls the “PRIME study”, short for “Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface”, which aims to study the safety of its implants and surgical robots and Its purpose is to test the functionality of the device. In a September blog post about recruiting trial participants.

CNN’s Diksha Madhok and Jane Christensen contributed to this report.

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