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Friday, June 14, 2024

Elon Musk’s company was allowed to test brain chips on humans

According to the entrepreneur, such chips will help treat autism, obesity, depression and other diseases. Healthy people will also be able to use them to improve their abilities. They will be able to control the body or computer literally with the power of thought.

Elon Musk’s company Neurolink will begin (the link leads to a resource blocked in the Russian Federation) to test brain chips on humans. Permission to conduct such experiments was issued by the US Food and Drug Administration. First of all, the technology is going to be tested on people with spinal cord injuries.

The chip itself is a device no larger than a coin, from which more than 60 insulated wires depart. Each is equipped with 16 electrodes 20 times thinner than a human hair. They connect to the brain and read the activity of neurons. These signals are then converted into necessary actions or movements. That is, people will control their body or computer literally with the power of thought.

The company clarified that they will open a set of those wishing to participate in a clinical trial in the near future. Before starting to introduce chips into the human brain, Neurolink tested the technology on animals, mainly pigs and monkeys, Reuters said:

“This is a very important milestone for Neurolink. At the beginning of last year, the company already requested approval to conduct tests on the introduction of brain chips to humans. But then the Food and Drug Administration rejected the application. The reason for this was that the company still had problems that needed to be solved before moving on to human trials. Among them were questions about the chip’s battery, the possibility of migrating wires inside the brain, as well as safely removing the device if necessary. Neurolink has also been the subject of federal investigations, some of which involved testing chips on animals. Musk himself has publicly discussed his ambitious plan to introduce brain chips since 2019. He claims that his devices will help not only cope with a number of diseases, such as obesity, autism, depression and even schizophrenia, but also make telepathy possible. Therefore, not only those who suffer from serious diseases will be able to use the chips: healthy people will also be able to put them in local centers.

But with the testing of chips on animals, not everything was smooth. The guide hides information about failed experiments and that some of the monkeys died during the study, says American eco-activist Rachel Parent:

“Musk’s project also has a dark side. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine had previously filed a complaint with the USDA, alleging that the 23 monkeys on which Neurolink conducted experiments from 2017 to 2020 experienced extreme suffering. Experts analyzed more than 700 pages of documents received from the University of California, which at the time collaborated with Musk’s company. There was all the data, from animal health indicators to autopsy results. And the committee said at least 15 monkeys had died or been killed by 2020. Neuralink, on the other hand, admitted that they euthanized only eight animals, while during the tests none of them suffered. As for humans, there will be no real data on how these chips will function in the human brain until the first volunteers appear. But perhaps people aren’t asking enough questions about the potential consequences of such experiments. For example, what happens if the chip fails? What happens if an infection suddenly enters the brain through the chip? And perhaps the biggest threat will come if hackers infiltrate the chip’s systems. How will all this affect human health? Before you start such tests, you need to know the exact answers to these questions.

As Musk assures, the second-generation chips will be designed for healthy people who want to improve their abilities. According to the entrepreneur, they will allow the human brain to compete with artificial intelligence.

Many scientists are wary of such experiments. Others claim that neuroprosthetics have already been used several times in humans and really allowed paralyzed patients to move the cursor on the screen and type with the power of thought. But all scientists agree that the absence of wires and the use of electrodes is what distinguishes Musk’s product and allows scientific discoveries to be made part of everyday life.

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