According to Elon Musk, the first human received an implant from his computer-brain interface company Neuralink over the weekend. He added that “initial results show promising neuron spike detection.” When Neuralink announced in September that it would begin recruiting people, the company said it was searching for individuals with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Neuralink, one of several groups, is working to link the nervous system with computers. This effort is aimed at treating brain disorders and overcoming brain injury, among other things. Musk stated that “Telepathy,” the Neuralink’s first product, would allow users to operate their computers or phones “just by thinking” and that it will be aimed at those with lost limb use. Laura Cabrera, who researches brain science at Pennsylvania State University, said that even though Neuralink uses an innovative procedure – robotic surgery – to get the device in the brain, no one has implanted it before in humans and much remains unknown. Brain surgery is “not a trivial thing,” she said, pointing to significant potential risks such as brain hemorrhage or seizures. She pointed out that Neuralink’s competitors plan to use their devices for medical applications only, but Musk has been outspoken about going beyond medicine. For example, Cabrera said, Musk has talked about implants for the masses that will allow people to record everything that happens to them and access the information when they want — which may raise red flags for some. For in-depth analysis and a deeper perspective on neuroscience and Neuralink’s ultimate medical and commercial goals, FRANCE 24’s Francois Picard is joined by Dr. L. Syd M Johnson, Philosopher, Bioethicist, Neuroethicist, Clinical Ethics Consultant, and Associate Professor of Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
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