Billionaire Elon Musk announced that his company Neuralink has implanted its brain-computer interface into a human for the first time. The recipient was “recovering well,” Musk wrote on his social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Monday evening, adding that initial results showed “promising neuron spike detection”—a reference to brain cells’ electrical activity.
Each wireless Neuralink device contains a chip and electrode arrays of more than 1,000 superthin, flexible conductors that a surgical robot threads into the cerebral cortex. There the electrodes are designed to register thoughts related to motion. In Musk’s vision, an app will eventually translate these signals to move a cursor or produce text—in short, it will enable computer control by thinking. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal,” Musk wrote of the first Neuralink product, which he said is named Telepathy.
Among the other companies to make similar advances in the field is the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland, which has successfully enabled a paralysed man to walk just by thinking.
That was achieved by putting electronic implants on his brain and spine which wirelessly communicate thoughts to his legs and feet.
Details of the breakthrough were published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature in May 2023.
The implants' "ultra-fine" threads help transmit signals in participants' brains, Neuralink has said.
The first product from Neuralink would be called Telepathy, Musk said in a separate post on X.
The startup's PRIME Study is a trial for its wireless brain-computer interface to evaluate the safety of the implant and surgical robot.