Elon Musk says his startup Neuralink has implanted a device in its first human

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Tech billionaire Elon Musk said Monday that his brain-science startup company Neuralink had implanted a device in a human for the first time, a possible step toward a product that Musk said would allow people to control almost any external device “just by thinking.” 

Musk made the announcement on X. He said the patient, whom he did not identify, “received an implant” Sunday and “is recovering well.” The initial results, he added, showed “promising neuron spike detection.” He gave no other details on the procedure, the patient or the device that the company implanted. 

Scientists for decades have worked on similar ideas for brain-computer interfaces that, if successful, could one day assist people who are physically disabled, change how people communicate or more. 

There was no immediate independent confirmation of Neuralink’s progress. One of Neuralink’s competitors, Precision Neuroscience, implanted its device in a human for the first time last year. 

Musk’s announcement comes eight months after Neuralink said it had received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to conduct its first in-human clinical study. In September, Neuralink said it would begin recruiting patients for the study. 

Neuralink, which is based in San Francisco, did not immediately respond to a request for more information. 

The FDA, which regulates medical devices and would need to approve any consumer product, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s announcement. 

Neuralink has previously said it was building a brain implant called the Link to help patients, including those with severe paralysis, use external technologies. Musk said Monday that Neuralink’s first product would be called Telepathy. He didn’t say if it was a new device or a new name for the previously announced device. 

Neuralink has faced accusations in recent years that it mistreated some of the monkeys the company used in its experiments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said last year after an investigation that it did not find any violations of animal research rules other than a self-reported 2019 incident where a Neuralink surgeon used an unapproved sealant to close holes drilled into a monkey’s skull, Reuters reported. 

The Telepathy product would allow people to control their phone or computer — and through those devices, almost any other device — with thought only, Musk said. 

“Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs,” he wrote on X. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.” 

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Musk co-founded Neuralink in 2016, adding the brain science startup to a roster of other companies he leads including Tesla and SpaceX. He bought X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2022. 

Neuralink is backed by more than 30 investors including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, according to TechCrunch. Musk said in 2022 that he plans to get one of the Neuralink implants himself. 

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