Elon Musk plans to test brain chip in humans in 2023; experts skeptical

Spinal Tech

Elon Musk pushed back plans to test the Neuralink brain chip in humans to 2023, The New York Times reported Nov. 30.

In December 2021, Mr. Musk said he aimed to use Neuralink implants in human patients in 2022. The devices have already been tested in monkeys, sheep and pigs. 

In a Nov. 30 presentation, Mr. Musk pushed back that timeline, saying he predicts Neuralink will be tested around mid-2023. Neuralink does not have FDA approval, but paperwork is being submitted to seek permission for human testing.

Despite Mr. Musk's 2023 goal, he said steps toward human trials would be up to the FDA. The agency will focus on the device's safety.

Mr. Musk hopes to help patients with spinal cord injuries restore basic functions with Neuralink. His Nov. 30 presentation focused on the "Link" device that resembles a small stack of coins that would sit in the gray matter of the brain.

While Neuralink makes big promises, not everyone is eager to see human testing.

Anna Wexler, PhD, an assistant professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, told CNBC it was risky to encourage hype in patients.

"From an ethical perspective, I think that hype is very concerning," she said in a Dec. 1 report. "Space or Twitter, that's one thing, but when you come into the medical context, the stakes are higher."

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