Elon Musk has said that Neuralink, his brain-interface technology company, hopes to start implanting its microchips in humans next year.
Neuralink, cofounded by Musk in 2016, is developing a chip that would be implanted in people’s brains to simultaneously record and stimulate brain activity. It’s intended to have medical applications, such as treating serious spinal-cord injuries and neurological disorders. During a livestreamed interview at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit on Monday, Musk was asked what Neuralink planned to do in 2022.
Musk said, “Neuralink’s working well in monkeys, and we’re actually doing just a lot of testing and just confirming that it’s very safe and reliable, and the Neuralink device can be removed safely.”
He added, “We hope to have this in our first humans — which will be people that have severe spinal-cord injuries like tetraplegics, quadriplegics — next year, pending FDA approval.”
Musk said that Neuralink’s “standards for implanting the device are substantially higher than what the FDA requires.” Musk reiterated the 2022 timeline in a tweet. “Progress will accelerate when we have devices in humans (hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys) next year,” he said.
Musk has previously offered earlier timeframes for Neuralink to implant its chips in humans for the first time. He said in February that Neuralink could start implanting the tech in people by the end of 2021. In 2019, Musk said Neuralink hoped to begin human testing by the end of 2020.
Musk has a history of overpromising and under-delivering on project timelines. In April, Neuralink released a video of a monkey playing a video game using a Neuralink device.
After raising $205 million in July, Neuralink said it would channel the funds toward developing its chip so that it could allow quadriplegics to control digital devices with their minds. Quadriplegia or tetraplegia is the full or partial paralysis of the arms and legs.
Neuralink isn’t the only company developing brain-interface technology. In July, a 20-person biotech firm called Synchron obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start human testing.