Despite the horrific deaths of monkeys it experimented on, Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain-computer interface (BCI) business is ready to implant its robot-assisted brain chip.
According to Bloomberg, Musk wants to implant the own robot surgeon as soon as feasible.
Even though it received FDA permission for human studies in May and announced in September that it was recruiting its first human participants, it still hasn’t found its perfect volunteer.
A person under 40 who’s paralyzed in all four limbs and willing to have a chunk of their skull removed and replaced with a quarter-sized implant to collect brain data is Neuralink’s ideal client.
In that Bloomberg report, Musk biographer Ashlee Vance notes that lots of individuals want the Musk brain chip installed first.
However, recent allegations concerning the company’s studies on rhesus macaques, many of whom became obviously agitated, attempted to injure themselves, became very ill, or died after implantation, are worrisome.
Vance says that during his visits to Neuralink’s Fremont, California facilities, conditions are much better than one might expect from the recent spate of grisly reports about the rhesus macaque monkeys’ horrific fates. The company also emphasizes that all those terrible stories were from public records requests from Neuralink’s earliest experiments.
Vance reports that the Fremont facility’s monkeys, the same group he’s seen for three years, are healthy, with some getting updated brain models implanted, others retired to sanctuaries, and one killed. The macaques enjoy enormous playpens full of toys and fake trees, watch TV and listen to music, and play computer games “when they feel like it” to help with mind-reading research, the reporter says.
It’s hard to ignore the rumors about the other Neuralink monkeys, even though Vance’s photo is cute and bizarre.
After the chip was placed, one female macaque’s brain exploded, Wired reported last month. UC Davis researchers experimenting with the monkey for Neuralink left her alive to see what occurred. The chip seeped fluid into the monkey’s brain, inflaming it and protruding from her skull, according to an autopsy after she died.
According to Bloomberg, Neuralink maintains that this event and others in recent months were caused by human mistake rather than technology failure.
Whatever the truth, it’s impossible to “square away,” as Vance puts it, the concept that Neuralink would soon have robots implant people so soon after all those frightening tales.
But it may be Musk-era science.
The mother of two of Musk’s children, Shivon Zilis, told Vance, “We can’t blow up the first three,” referring to SpaceX’s Starships explosions. “That’s not an option here.”