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Musk's "Brain Chip" Headed for Human Trials


FILE: Elon Musk's Neuralink shows monkey with brain-chip playing videogame by thinking. Image taken April 10, 2021

Elon Musk said he expects a wireless brain chip developed by his company Neuralink to begin human clinical trials in six months, after the company missed earlier timelines set by him.

Musk wants to develop a chip that would allow the brain to control complex electronic devices and eventually allow people with paralysis to regain motor function and treat brain diseases such as Parkinson's, dementia and Alzheimer's. He also talks of melding the brain with artificial intelligence.

"We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human," Musk said during a much-awaited public update on the device.

Speaking to a crowd of select invitees in a presentation at Neuralink headquarters that lasted nearly three hours, Musk emphasized the speed at which the company is developing its device.

"The progress at first, particularly as it applies to humans, will seem perhaps agonizingly slow, but we are doing all of the things to bring it to scale in parallel," he added. "So, in theory, progress should be exponential."

Neuralink, however, is running behind schedule. Musk said in a 2019 presentation he was aiming to receive regulatory approval by the end of 2020. He then said at a conference in late 2021 that he hoped to start human trials this year.

Neuralink has repeatedly missed internal deadlines to gain FDA approval to start human trials, current and former employees have said.

Musk approached competitor Synchron earlier this year about a potential investment after he expressed frustration to Neuralink employees about their slow progress.

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