(CNN) — Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla and, most recently, owner of Twitter, hosted a splashy event Wednesday night for another of his companies: Neuralink, the start up who proposes implants that connect your brain to a computer.
The event showed a video that Musk said showed a monkey using a brain implant to control a cursor and type on a computer.
It’s not entirely new technology, as researchers have been working for decades on devices that can decode brain signals for practical purposes. For example, allow a person write words or play video games with just your brain has been done before.
Musk noted during the “show and tell” event that the main goal of the night was to recruit talent for Neuralink.
“A lot of times people think they couldn’t really work on Neuralink because they don’t know anything about biology or how the brain works,” Musk said. “What we really want to emphasize here is that it’s not necessary because when you look at the skills that are needed to make Neuralink work, it’s actually a lot of the same skills that are required to make a modern smartwatch or phone work.”
DJ Seo, Neuralink’s vice president of Implants, showed off the latest version of the company’s device, noting that it will be wireless and rechargeable. He also shared images of a robot he said was built to perform implant surgery and also gave a demonstration of what such surgery might look like, noting that manufacturing and a trial clinic were being set up in Austin, Texas.
Musk launched Neuralink more than five years ago with the goal of developing technologies that could improve the connection between humans and computers by implanting chips into people’s brains. The company has so far only tested its technology on animals.
Last year, for example, Neuralink said it could allow monkeys will play the video game Pong using only his brain implants, although something similar had already been achieved in a human with a brain implant more than a decade before. Musk promoted images of the monkey playing Pong again on Wednesday.
Neuralink implant technology sparks anger and raises ethical questions
The use of animals, however, has angered activists. The company has acknowledged that a monkey had died during the testing process.
“We do our best with rigorous laboratory testing to not be cavalier about putting devices in animals,” Musk said Wednesday.
The core idea behind Neuralink raises numerous questions. ethics Y sociopolitical. But advocates say such devices provide life-changing help for amputees and disabled people if, for example, they lose the ability to use their hands or see.
Musk, however, also tends to emphasize non-medical uses, such as the use of brain implants to level the playing field, should digital artificial intelligence become smarter than any human.
“How do we mitigate that risk? At the species level? Musk asked this Wednesday. “Even in a benign scenario, where AI is very, very benevolent, so how do we continue the journey?”
Musk’s Neuralink is not the only organization pursuing this technology. And some federally funded researchers are already conducting some clinical trials.
During Wednesday’s event, Musk was asked if Neuralink would plan to make its tools available to neuroscientists. He replied that the company would do it after it had reached the production phase.
Before Neuralink’s brain implants are mass-produced and reach the general market, they will need regulatory approval. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a document in May of last year outlining the agency’s initial thoughts on brain-computer interface devices, noting that the field it is “progressing rapidly”.
Musk said Wednesday that Neuraink has submitted “most” of its documentation to the FDA and could begin human testing within six months. Keep in mind, though, that Musk frequently touts missed deadlines, from his claims about when SpaceX would take its rocket to Mars into space to his predictions about when autonomous vehicles will be on the road.
Source: CNN Espanol