In what is set to be a monumental stride towards restoring lost body autonomy, Neuralink, one of Elon Musk's many ventures, has officially opened recruitment for its first-in-human clinical trial, the PRIME Study (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface).
According to a blog post on Neuralink's site, this medical device trial is poised to revolutionize the lives of individuals suffering from quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Neuralink has been heavily criticised in the past especially after Musk confirmed monkeys used for trials of the device ended up dying as a result of the tests. Despite Elon claiming they were bound to end six feet under due to terminal illnesses, this didn't stop a federal investigation from taking place for potential animal-welfare violations.
In any case, the PRIME Study marks a unique moment when it comes to neurotechnology as despite controversies, Neuralink received the green light from an independent institutional review board and its first hospital site to embark on this ground-breaking journey.
At its core, the study aims to evaluate the safety and initial functionality of Neuralink's fully implantable, wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) named N1.
The N1 Implant is described by Neuralink as a medical device that features ultra-fine and flexible threads that are delicately placed within a region of the brain responsible for controlling movement intention. Once integrated, the N1 Implant becomes virtually invisible, recording and wirelessly transmitting brain signals to an app.
This app will be the key to decoding the wearer's thoughts, potentially granting them the remarkable ability to control external devices such as a computer cursor or keyboard with their thoughts alone. So, in essence, it's aim is to be much more than a "simple" medical tool.
According to Musk, he envisions Neuralink as a vital component in reducing the risks associated with artificial intelligence. By vastly improving the bandwidth of communication between humans and AI, Neuralink seeks to enhance not only human-to-AI interactions but also human-to-human connectivity by orders of magnitude.
Hopefully, this means we keep Skynet in control.