Mon. May 20th, 2024

Elon Musk announces the implantation by Neuralink of the Telepathy chip on a first human brain

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Apr17,2024

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AFP In addition to the possible damage to human health, Telepathy chips and their side effects raise many fears. We are particularly wondering about the fact that these implants could become a back door to implanted brains.

SCIENCE & TECH –Nearly a year after receiving authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American drug agency, Neuralink has carried out its first brain implant on a human being. The co-founder of Neuralink, billionaire Elon Musk, boss of Tesla, SpaceX and X, revealed on his social network that the patient was “doing well”. He even mentions “promising” results for this neurotechnology startup, whose chips, called Telepathy, have already sparked a lot of controversy.

Founded in 2016, Neuralink has He first undertook his experiments on primates. In 2019, the startup announced that it had grafted sensors into the brain of a monkey.

The objective is to create a man-machine interface, making it possible to mentally control a computer and, ultimately, brain activity, and treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

The first human patient “is doing well”… until now

The tests, having shown that the implants can interact with electronic devices, quickly became the subject of strong criticism, following the death of specimens having received the implant. Faced with accusations of animal abuse, Elon Musk dismissed them, saying “no monkeys died because of Neuralink’s Telepathy chip.”

In February 2022, a few months after the startup published a video showing a monkey playing ping-pong “in thought”, the Practitioners Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), an association based in Washington, announced the filing of a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture. THE PCRM accuses Neuralink of having carried out its experiments on 23 monkeys, between 2017 and 2020, at the University of California. At the end of these, 15 of them had to be euthanized.

According to the complaint, the primates endured “extreme suffering, resulting from animal abuse.” AND, according to the press, one of the monkeys lost several fingers and toes, “perhaps due to self-mutilation or other unspecified trauma.” Another primate developed a skin infection following the placement of brain electrodes.

In response, the company stressed that “all new medical devices must be tested on animals before being tested on humans, a rule from which Neuralink is no exception”. Euthanizing the primates was justified because they were in “terminal procedures” due to “poor health conditions related to their condition before being assigned to Neuralink.”

Conclusive results or not, Elon Musk and his company received authorization in May 2023 from the FDA, the American drug agency, to conduct a first trial on humans. Neuralink announced the recruitment of its first guinea pigs last September.

In an X post published on Monday January 29, 2024, the billionaire announced the transplantation of the brain implant onto a human patient. The latter is “recovering well” and “the first results show promising detection of neuronal spikes”, he writes.

Recover the use of your limbs but lose the sense of reality?

The goal of these chips, no bigger than a coin, connected to the brain by wires 20 times thinner than hair, is to capture brain activity in order to interpret it. The objective is not so much to control electronic devices by thought but of a medical nature, insists the boss of Tesla: “The first users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs.”

For Elon Musk, Telepathy “can give disabled people the use of their limbs”, in particular thanks to direct interactions between the brain and prostheses. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a typist or an auctioneer. That’s the goal,”, he said in another tweet. His wish is that, by 2030, at least 22,000 people will receive this implant.

Neither the boss of SpaceX nor Neuralink have communicated any public price. The startup, valued at $5 billion in June 2023, was fined in January for violating US Department of Transportation (DOT) rules regarding the movement of hazardous materials. She is the subject of calls to investigate her security protocols and, according to Reuters, lawmakers suspect her boss of misleading investors about the safety of her technology, following the disastrous consequences of the monkey experiments.

In addition to the possible damage to human health, Telepathy chips and their side effects raise many fears. Some speak of a dependence as well as a greater addiction to the Internet, to its algorithms and above all, to content generated by artificial intelligence. Others wonder whether these implants could become a back door to implanted brains…

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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