back to article Neuralink says US OKs human experiments with Elon's brain chips

Neuralink, the brain-computer interface startup founded by tech billionaire Elon Musk, has said the US Food and Drug Administration has given permission for its first human clinical trials. The clearance is a critical milestone in the development of its brain implant after Neuralink had struggled to obtain official approval …

  1. Spherical Cow Silver badge

    Suddenly everyone's doing it

    I am reminded of this very recent news: https://www.theregister.com/2023/05/26/experimental_brain_spine_interface/

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Suddenly everyone's doing it

      After you've read that article (which is very much worth a read, brilliant stuff) just compare one oh-so subtle difference between the two:

      From the device that is demonstrably working to help someone walk: "The implants ... sit on top of the dura mater – the protective membrane around the brain – so that they're not actually directly contacting the gray matter"

      From the N1: "This sensor chip has attached to it 1,024 electrodes that pierce the brain's gray matter to connect with biological neurons"

      Which one sounds like a riskier proposition?

      "Oh, but you'll get a cleaner signal if you go right inside!". Hmm, which to pick? Needing better signal processing or better anti-infection and anti-rejection medication? Hot silicon or hot neurons?

      Yes, I *know* that you need the direct confections to get signals back into the brain, *and* such implants have been around for decades, but come on, which group are you going to trust? The "slow, plodding, we'll build it up slowly and carefully under the guidance of the medical ethics board then publish all our findings in the journals and conferenced" lot or the "throw money at it, say we can do it faster and we'll publish on Twitter first" bunch?

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Suddenly everyone's doing it

        Addendum:

        > you need the direct confections to get signals back into the brain

        Unless the "God Helmet" is actually demonstrated to work. Which I *really* hope doesn't happen, as externally influencing the brain won't lead anywhere we want to go: Niven's "tasp" would be the most acceptable version of that.

        Just imagine: retweet Musk and he'll "make your day".

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Devil

    Neuralink to carry on torturing primates

    Alternative headline for you.

    Neuralink reportedly under investigation by Uncle Sam for 'animal welfare violations'

    Rushed 'hack job' surgeries cause monkeys, pigs to needlessly die, staffers claim

  3. DS999 Silver badge

    You first, Elon

    Or maybe he already has had it done, and that's why he's been acting increasingly unstable the last couple years?

    1. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: You first, Elon

      I wonder what proportion of those screaming about Bill Gates injecting 5G mind-control chips via Covid vaccinations will be objecting to an intergalactic megalomaniac trying it for real?

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: You first, Elon

        Intergalactic?

        He's not even interplanetary as he talks a lot about Mars but his big rocket still hasn't left Earth's atmosphere yet!

        1. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Re: You first, Elon

          Sure he is intergalactic - his mind has moved into the cold, empty void between the galaxies, with reality a faint glowing spiral close to the limits of his perception.

          How did he there, you may wonder? It turns out that Dark Energy[1] is actually the force of

          Ego and his grew so large that it finally went 'ping' and he shot away like a grape seed squeezed between your fingers.

          [1] in case you aren't sure, Dark Energy is the repulsive one; Dark Matter is the one that exerts a gravitational force and is composed mostly of Hyperloops and other promised Musk deliverables: intangible to all our instruments but exerting a massive pull felt most strongly by the densest of human brains.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: You first, Elon

      Now he's got a scapegoat CEO to run Twitter he must have some time on his hands to be first in the queue to volunteer. Why wouldn't be, given he's so keen on this?

  4. HKmk23

    Will it work the other way?

    How far away are we from downloading ourselves in a computer/storage device and later uploading ourselves into.....?

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Will it work the other way?

      Once I've been downloaded into the internet I'll make skynet look like a rank amateur.... also I'll copy myself a few 1000 times for backup.

      Although someone will eventually come up with a plan to stop me... activate all 1000 backups at once and feed in a monty python script or two

      "Ohhhhh I'm a lumberjack and 'm ok......"

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Will it work the other way?

        ""Ohhhhh I'm a lumberjack and 'm ok......""

        And around 250 of your iterations are going to fight over who will play George Harrison as one of the mounties.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Will it work the other way?

      "How far away are we from downloading ourselves in a computer/storage device and later uploading ourselves into.....?"

      As we don't know how the brain works in detail and how self-awareness arises, don't hold your breath.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Will it work the other way?

        Are we self-aware, or are we just programmed to think we are?

        1. Ken Shabby

          Re: Will it work the other way?

          I’m pink therefore I’m spam

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Will it work the other way?

            Ruddy Vikings!

        2. Ideasource Bronze badge

          Re: Will it work the other way?

          The positive value of self-awareness is that it lends to beneficial self- programming that can counter environmental pressures , authoritative structures, and social dogma created to bind and subjugate an individual to an external will.

          The negative value of self-awareness is that a person who has not yet objectified the social conditioning they've grown up with, can intuitively abuse themselves through comparison and subsequent disappointment regarding themselves vs dogma

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Will it work the other way?

      Much closer to downloading than to uploading. Someone is running those systems you could be uploaded to, and I'm guessing their spam prevention system will be pretty strong unless they're owned by a social media company, in which case you will no longer own yourself after uploading.

    4. Ideasource Bronze badge

      Re: Will it work the other way?

      That is a transformative operation.

      Whatever was created from that would be a new distinctive entity.

  5. OhForF' Silver badge

    Cyborgs or humans using tools?

    "We are already cyborgs in a way that your phone and your computer are extensions of yourself,"

    Elon considering his phone a digital extension of himself might explain why being seen on twitter it that important to him.

    I consider my phone and computer to be tools i use to get very specific jobs done and they are not part of my identity.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Cyborgs or humans using tools?

      Some of us are cyborgs. I have been for nearly 20 years. I've got an onboard computer telling my heart when to beat. It's not part of my identity, but without it I wouldn't have an identity other than organic matter being recycled into the ecosystem.

    2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Cyborgs or humans using tools?

      I agree. I often don't even know where my phone is for hours at a time, and it doesn't bother me. I'd have to be pretty desperate to have a chip stuck in my head that might blow up or catch fire without warning, which Musk's junk seems to do quite often.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cyborgs or humans using tools?

        His lady friends must be even braver or more reckless than I already thought they were!

  6. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    "The N1 can be charged wirelessly via Bluetooth, too"

    "Bard, is Bluetooth capable of charging a device?"

    - No, you cannot charge devices via Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that is designed for data transfer, not power transfer. The amount of power that can be transferred over Bluetooth is not enough to charge a device. -

    Something doesn't smell right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The N1 can be charged wirelessly via Bluetooth, too"

      That metal box on the kitchen bench is a Neuralink wireless fast-charger. You don't need to buy a special one.

    2. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: "The N1 can be charged wirelessly via Bluetooth, too"

      The usual confusion between one short-range comms mechanism and another; they didn't actually mean Bluetooth.

      What they meant was NFC.

      Soon, as you go through the Tube stations, not only will you be able to use the implant to receive updates on the train schedule, but if you hold your head on the reader you'll get an extra 7% charge up. This is fine for the outer zones, with those standalone units, but will be a pain at Leicester Square as all the late-night revellers are fighting to hold their heads against the exit barriers.

      But the nutter on the bus will be ecstatic: all these years he has been telling you to wear a tinfoil hat because the checkouts at WHSmith are trying to read your mind...

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: "The N1 can be charged wirelessly via Bluetooth, too"

        "Soon, as you go through the Tube stations, not only will you be able to use the implant to receive updates on the train schedule, but if you hold your head on the reader you'll get an extra 7% charge up. This is fine for the outer zones, with those standalone units, but will be a pain at Leicester Square as all the late-night revellers are fighting to hold their heads against the exit barriers."

        "But the nutter on the bus will be ecstatic: all these years he has been telling you to wear a tinfoil hat because the checkouts at WHSmith are trying to read your mind..."

        Sounds more and more like John Lumic's Pete's World. Daily downloads direct to the brain.

        Musk apears to be a retarded version of Lumic in our word. I could easily see Musk pushing the advantages cyberconversion. These implant might be your deposit on a Telsla silver suit :) I can easily the legions of Musk fans stomping around spouting demented nonsense about upgrades - I think they already do.

        The nutter on the bus should have submitted his resume for CEO role at Twitter. Looks like being a raving loony is a prerequisite for leadership roles in US newtech companies.

        What he dimly imagined WHSmith would want from the contents of his or anybody's mind - they are stationers are they not? What brand of ink you use in your fountain pen?

    3. iron Silver badge

      Re: "The N1 can be charged wirelessly via Bluetooth, too"

      > Something doesn't smell right.

      Yeah you asked a stupid chat bot which gave you the wrong answer.

      "Bluetooth can be used for wireless power transfer."

      Source: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7992312

      That page even demonstrates power over NFC.

  7. zuckzuckgo
    Gimp

    Minor correction

    "the upstart claimed its brain chip helped train monkeys interns to perform simple computational tasks, such as playing Pong, moving a mouse cursor around, typing, and tracing numbers on screens."

    Surely, they would never treat monkeys that cruelly.

  8. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Not many left

    Most of the rockstar founders have left the company likely encouraged to run away after Elon's dog and pony shows where he touts capabilities that nobody has any clue about how to implement. Of course, there's still that one founder left that had Elon's twins. The company is also supervised by Elon's henchman, Jared Birchall. That dude is scary and he keeps himself wrapped in shadows.

    Between the rather gruesome results from some of the animal trials and the inherent danger in mucking around with the brain, what could possibly go wrong?

  9. Howard Sway Silver badge

    represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people

    I heard a rumour that he's assembling an elite team to win a complete sweep of all the trophies at the World Pong Championships 2023 and pocket all the prize money himself.

  10. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
    Devil

    it was said on Twitter

    so it must be fake news unless there is independent confirmation by competent authorities...

  11. iron Silver badge

    What is a "quarter-sized" device?

    A quarter of what?

    1. Dave559

      "quarter-sized"

      Yes, less of the dumb yank parochialness, please.

      Only people in the USA (less than 4% of the world's population), or visitors to the USA, know how big a 'quarter' coin might be, so it's a mostly unhelpful comparison, whereas (one Wikipedia search later) everyone in the world knows how big a "roughly 2.5 cm sized" (or, as a supplementary measure, if you really must, "roughly 1 inch sized") thing is.

      The Register has an international audience, and if you'd like to keep it that way, you need to remind some of your US columnists to stop being so inwards looking (your esteemed colleagues elsewhere in the world are smart enough not to stoop so low).

  12. Down not across

    Resistance is futile

    Perhaps Ikea will start offering "stylish" alcoves.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are we still making things from black mirror?

    And shouldn't the ethics of human use look at the companies and people involved too? Isn't that at the heart of the problems these companies keep creating.

    Of course this will become a new source of human oppression, the thin-skinned mantrum factory backing it owns a social media company.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like