FDA approves Elon Musk's Neuralink for clinical trials

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first human trials for Neuralink, the company founded by Elon Musk to develop microchip brain implants that could help restore vision, mobility and other functions by enabling direct interface between brain and computer.

The chips have already been tested on monkeys. They’re designed to interpret signals from the brain and relay those signals, via Bluetooth, to external devices that would then assist in human functionality. Conditions such as blindness, paralysis and other disabilities could be treated.

The microscopic chips have thread-like electrodes connected to specific regions of the brain. Once implanted, the chip captures the signals generated by the brain, then interprets them and transmits instructions to the external devices.

The concept is not unique to Neuralink. As reported here, in an experiment last year a Dutch man who had been paralyzed in a cycling accident, had electronic implants in both his brain and his spine, and was able to move his legs and feet simply by thinking about it.

A note of caution: there are still hurdles to be overcome before the technology is widely available. But the implications are obvious — including the implications for dramatically improving the quality of life for all of us as we age. The brain-computer interface could include memory, for example, and dazzling new ways for us to capture (and replay!) memories of our experiences. Is our destiny to be a cyborg? Elon Musk thinks so, and thinks it will be wonderful.

Do you agree?

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