The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved human trials for Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chip. The regulatory approval will allow the company to initiate human trials for its innovative brain-computer interface implants. Despite the recent approval, the question remains whether Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chip would be harmful to humans.
Since 2019, Elon Musk has predicted multiple times that Neuralink would start human trials in the foreseeable future. However, the company did not seek FDA approval until early 2022, and when they did, the agency rejected their application. The greenlight for human clinical trials marks an important milestone for not just Neuralink but all of technology.
The controversy around Neuralink’s safety
The FDA had previously rejected Neuralink’s proposals for human clinical trials due to a variety of issues that Elon Musk’s company did not address. Some of them were the use of lithium batteries in the implants and the potential interference of the implant’s wires with the brain.
We are excited to share that we have received the FDA’s approval to launch our first-in-human clinical study!
This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our…
— Neuralink (@neuralink) May 25, 2023
There was also doubt over how the Neuralink implant could be removed safely from the brain without causing any harm. And it’s not just humans that are affected: Neuralink has faced scrutiny from animal rights organizations as well.
According to reports, adequate care was not provided for research animals like sheep, pigs, and monkeys. If the numbers are to be believed, approximately 1,500 animals have been euthanized by the company since 2018.
During the animal trials, Neuralink allegedly transported dangerous pathogens on chips removed from monkey brains without proper containment measures. This clearly violates animal welfare laws as well as ethics and regulations.
What does Elon Musk’s Neuralink do?
Neuralink aims to restore vision for the blind and potentially enable paralyzed individuals to regain mobility. It will also deal with conditions like obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
On a higher level, the brain chip would facilitate web browsing and telepathy. During a presentation, Elon Musk mentioned the ability to save and replay memories using Neuralink.
This will be a reality one day.
Neuralink will change lives. 🧠
— DogeDesigner (@cb_doge) May 26, 2023
Furthermore, the billionaire predicts that customers will desire to upgrade their brain chips regularly. He compared it to upgrading iPhones but the new versions would be implanted in the brain every time.
Can Neuralink cause harm to the human brain?
Elon Musk’s confidence in Neuralink has never once wavered as he once claimed that he would even implant the device in his own children’s brains. Following the FDA’s approval, human trials could start within around six months. The company intends to provide more information about the recruitment process for clinical trials soon.
The FDA’s approval for human trials is a big step for Neuralink, but we need to consider the safety and ethical implications of the technology. The concerns raised by the FDA and animal welfare investigations show that there’s more work left to do.
The potential benefits of Neuralink are significant. However, the well-being of humans and animals involved in the development process should always be a priority.
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