(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp. has performed its first brain implant on a human — a major step toward the billionaire’s goal of one day enabling people to control computers with their minds. And for the first time Musk has given a name to the implant device.
Most read from Bloomberg
Here’s what you need to know about Neuralink and the company’s first human trials:
What is Neuralink?
Neuralink is a startup founded by Elon Musk in 2017. It’s trying to create a brain-computer interface that will help people with traumatic injuries operate phones and PCs using only their thoughts. To do this, it is working on implanting electrodes in people’s brain.
Looks scary. Has this been done before?
Yes. Neuralink is based on decades of technology aimed at implanting electrodes in the human brain to interpret signals and treat conditions such as paralysis, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. An early device is known as the Utah Array, which was first demonstrated in humans in 2004. Several competitors have entered the field, including Synchron and Precision Neuroscience.
Is it legal?
After a series of transplant trials on various animals, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Neuralink for clinical trials on humans in May last year. The company was heavily criticized for its surgical work in animals, particularly primates, by groups such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which stated that Neuralink had botched many of those surgeries.
What’s different about the Neuralink device?
The Neuralink device has more than 1,000 electrodes, far more than other implants. It targets individual neurons, while several other tools in development target signals from groups of neurons. If it works, it should enable a high level of accuracy.