Neuralink to trial microchips for human brains

Neuralink, the ambitious tech company behind research to link the human brain and computer together, is looking to start trials on patients next year.

The announcement comes three years after Elon Musk unveiled plans to implant microchips into people’s brains to control devices and “enable superhuman intelligence”.

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Illustration of what Neuralink’s first brain-machine interface might look like in humans, with a series of implants connected to a device surgically implanted behind the ear.
Photo: Neuralink

Neuralink, the ambitious tech company behind research to link the human brain and computer together, is looking to start trials on patients next year.

The announcement comes three years after Elon Musk unveiled plans to implant microchips into people’s brains to control devices and “enable superhuman intelligence”.


Elon Musk’s vision for implanted microchips is inching closer towards reality, with plans to conduct trials on human patients set for 2020.

Musk talked about the project at an event in San Francisco that was streamed live — with an eye toward recruiting more talent.

The start-up envisions drilling holes into the brain with a custom machine to embed thin threads that connect to a tiny processor, which can then be connected to a smartphone over Bluetooth.

Over time, the company would like to make the installation process as simple as laser-eye surgery:

Photo of Neuralink’s robotic system for inserting electrodes into the brain.
Photo: Neuralink

To insert the needed wires into the brain, it built a robot about the size of a barbecue grill that uses high-end optics to peer into holes drilled in the skull and then place the wires precisely. 

Each wire is one-quarter the width of a human hair and laced with dozens of electrodes. Their design and composition make them sturdy enough to pass through brain tissue, according to Neuralink.

The company is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to begin clinical trials as soon as next year, Bloomberg said, and Musk said the start-up wants to have its first human patient equipped with the technology before the end of 2020.

Musk believes the technology could eventually assist in cognitive capabilities like speech and sight, according to the New York Times

Applications include helping people control computers with their brain activity or restoring the ability to speak, Philip Sabes, senior scientist at Neuralink, said at Tuesday’s event.

Neuralink has operated in relative secrecy ever since Musk, the CEO of Tesla and a co-founder of PayPal, laid out the ideas for the start-up in an lengthy article, “Wait But Why” in 2017.


Neuralink is a company dedicated to connecting our minds to computing capabilities, and their technologies will allow us to integrate with computers to access and process information.

A technocratic dream of advanced devices that let humans read thoughts and communicate with each other through brainwaves is moving closer towards reality — and Neuralink is not alone.

As we reported last month, leading technology companies from across the world, including Facebook, are funding new research that “aims to merge the human brain with a computer”.

A top secret devision of Facebook, announced by Mark Zuckerberg as “Building 8”, is dedicated to working on “unannounced advanced consumer hardware products”.

Insider reports suggested projects undertaken will span everything from cameras and augmented reality, to science fiction-like “brain scanning technology”.

Facebook’s radical brain-scanning technology is reported to be lead by a former John Hopkins neuroscientist who helped develop a mind-controlled prosthetic arm. 

The company have poached former DARPA Director and Google pioneer Regina Dugan to spearhead the new division.

Furthermore, companies such as CTRL-labs and Kernel are working on external devices to detect neurons’ firing patterns from outside a person’s body and transmit them to a computer. 

The next level up is figuring out how to safely insert a device into the brain, where the neural signals are the strongest and the process can go much faster.



The announcements by leading tech companies across the world are part of a plan to develop technologies that accelerate the greater push towards a posthuman era of humanity.

Transhumanism has emerged as the dominant field of posthuman study, and does not focus on natural enhancements, rather the modification of the human species via any kind of emerging science — including genetic engineering, digital technology and bioengineering.

Transhumanist advocates are vocal proponents of “enhancing” physical and cognitive abilities though genetic modification, as well as implants and other surgeries, in hopes of transcending aspects of the human condition like aging and dying.

The philosophy calls for the transformation of the human condition by developing sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.

A 1985 article in Byte Magazine described the early visions of transhumanist concept as “awaking one morning to find your brain has another lobe functioning that answers your questions with information beyond the realm of your own memory.”

This concept seeks to redefine the boundaries surrounding modern philosophical understanding of the human, and represents an evolution of thought beyond that of social boundaries.

Transhumanist philosophers argue that there not only exists a perfectionist ethical imperative for humans to strive for improvement of the human condition, but that it is possible and desirable for humanity to enhance themselves beyond what is naturally human. 

Learn more about the approaching posthuman era by clicking the image below:


Elon Musk’s brain-machine start-up plans human trials in 2020 | CNBC

Neuralink Launch Event | Neuralink

Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future | Wait But Why

Tech companies develop ‘mind reading’ projects | TOTT News

The Transhuman Condition | ABC News

Dehumanization: A Tale of the Modern World | TOTT News


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