Elon Musk says Neuralink implanted wireless brain chip – BBCcom

Elon Musk says Neuralink implanted wireless brain chip – BBC.com

  • By Patrick Jackson and Tom Gerken
  • BBC News

January 30, 2024, 01:58 GMT

Updated 33 minutes ago

Image source: Getty Images

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has claimed that his company Neuralink has successfully implanted one of its wireless brain chips into a human.

In a post on

The company's goal is to connect human brains with computers to help manage complex neurological diseases.

Several competing companies have already implanted similar devices.

“For any company making medical devices, the first human test is a significant milestone,” said Professor Anne Vanhoestenberghe from King's College London.

“For the brain chip implant community, we need to put this news in the context that while there are many companies working on exciting products, there are few other companies that have implanted their devices into people, making Neuralink one of them belonged to a rather small group.”

However, she also pointed out that caution is needed as “true success” can only be judged in the long term.

“We know that Elon Musk is very adept at promoting his company,” she added.

This was achieved by placing electronic implants in his brain and spine that wirelessly transmit thoughts to his legs and feet.

There has been no independent verification of Mr. Musk's claims, nor has Neuralink provided any information about the procedure he claims took place.

BBC News has contacted both Neuralink and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for comment.

Neuralink has been criticized in the past, with Portal reporting in December 2022 that the company conducted tests that resulted in the deaths of about 1,500 animals, including sheep, monkeys and pigs.

In July 2023, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which investigates animal welfare concerns, said he had found no violations of animal testing regulations at the company.

However, a separate agency investigation is still ongoing.

That gave the green light to start the six-year study, in which a robot would surgically place 64 flexible threads, thinner than a human hair, on a part of the brain that controls “movement intention,” according to researchers Neuralink.

The company says these threads allow its experimental implant — which is powered by a battery that can be charged wirelessly — to record and wirelessly transmit brain signals to an app that deciphers how the person intends to move.

“[It] “has great potential to help people with neurological disorders in the future and is an excellent example of how basic neuroscience research is being used to drive medical progress,” said Professor Tara Spires-Jones, President of the British Neuroscience Association.

“However, most of these interfaces require invasive neurosurgery and are still in the experimental stage, so it will likely be many years before they are widely available.”

Telepathy, he said, would make it possible to “control your phone or your computer, and therefore almost any other device, simply by thinking.”

“First users will be those who no longer have the use of their limbs,” he continued.

While Mr. Musk's involvement raises Neuralink's profile, some of its competitors have a track record stretching back two decades. Utah-based Blackrock Neurotech implanted its first of many brain-computer interfaces in 2004.

Precision Neuroscience, founded by a Neuralink co-founder, also aims to help people with paralysis. And his implant resembles a very thin piece of tape that sits on the surface of the brain and can be implanted via a “cranial microslit,” which is said to be a much simpler procedure.

Existing devices have also achieved results. Two different recent scientific studies in the US used implants to monitor a person's brain activity when they tried to speak. This data could then be decrypted to facilitate communication.