back to article Neuralink patient masters mind-mouse maneuvers – if Musk is to be believed

Founder Elon Musk has announced that the first human to receive a Neuralink brain-computer interface has fully recovered and can control a computer mouse pointer with their thoughts. There were no ill effects "that we're aware of," the billionaire reported during a Spaces conference call on X (formerly Twitter). As well as …

  1. sabroni Silver badge

    Trust Space Karen to implant something in your brain?

    If ever a technology needed dog-fooding it's this one.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Trust Space Karen to implant something in your brain?

      Well I could understand the desperation for something like this to regain connection with the world if one was paralyzed, fortunately Musk's is hardly the only research happening in this area. He's just shouting it from the rooftops to feed his endless need for attention, normal research happens far more quietly with claims made in peer reviewed papers.

      1. Catkin Silver badge

        Re: Trust Space Karen to implant something in your brain?

        I'd add that, in addition to desperation, the trial patient likely doesn't have very long to live (it's been speculated they're an ALS patient) so they're possibly quite willing to risk shortening an already severely restricted life for the potential opportunities.

  2. cyberdemon Silver badge
    Terminator

    Pathetic creature of meat and bone

    I can barely imagine the horror of a machine that automatically grabs your head, drills a hole in it, and squodges some electrodes inside..

    Evokes images of the Cortex Reaver from System Shock

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Pathetic creature of meat and bone

      Nonsense, it's like going to Tahiti--it's a magical place.

  3. that one in the corner Silver badge

    masters mind-mouse maneuvers

    I was relieved when the first sentence pointed out that this is referring to a *computer* mouse.

    I had visions of Neuralink just connecting the human patient's device to the lab wifi and wondering why the caged mice were suddenly so attentive - and why the patient was asking about cheese.

    1. pdh

      Re: masters mind-mouse maneuvers

      Mice? Mice are for wimps. José Manuel Rodríguez Delgado stopped a charging bull via a remotely controlled brain implant -- sixty years ago.

    2. Proton_badger

      Re: masters mind-mouse maneuvers

      Well, that's wouldn't be entirely surprising seeing that mice are in fact hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional creatures whose rodent aspect represents merely a three-dimensional projection of their actual form which is convenient for studying the behavior of humans and the ongoing operation of Deep Thought.

    3. Sampler

      Re: masters mind-mouse maneuvers

      Seven years ago I was at a pub where a guy came in with his laptop and an off the shelf consumer grade neural scanner - googling brings up an "Emotiv Epoc-X" as something that looked like what it was, though the thousand dollar price tag is ten times what the guy said.

      With this, I could think of a smell and move a cursor upwards, think of colour and move it left, a sound to move down and a taste to move it right - I forget what it was to click, but basically, for far less than neural link, nearly a decade ago, we had the same thing - well, better, as I could take the thing off to shower...

      Anecdotally, very difficult to use, the mental agility to switch between the different thought processes to get it to move where you want is hard, but, still kinda cool nonetheless watching the cursor go where you want it without touching anything, and for those that can't touch anything, I imagine invaluable.

      (yes, I get this is trying to do it another way, that would be easier to control, but I think I'll settle for the eeg headset than anything Musk claims to have invented)

      For those interested, a really shitty video of my brain using the eeg headset where all the colour detail is lost to it white-overing:

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BQKkN3-gw_q/

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SQUEAK?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you suggesting they start using the Smalltalk implementation for testing?

  5. John Robson Silver badge

    Details about the patient are scarce...

    I would kind of hope so.

    There is a delicate balance here between ethical experimentation, public transparency, and medical privacy.

    I'd hope that there is some (confidential) external oversight to verify the first of those, the second then becomes relatively easy - that external group/organisation should be vetting any public statements to make sure that they are honest, and that they don't mess up the third item in the balance.

    I don't need to know who the patient is, but since the fact of the trial is public... I'd like to know that they're being appropriately looked after, and I'd be interested to hear about major milestones.

    "Can control a cursor" is a major milestone, but it's really quite vague - how good is the control? Can we get a screen capture of a few seconds of obvious control?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Details about the patient are scarce...

      Exactly. There is nothing to suggest that the medical team who have been treating the patient before he volunteered have received anything but transparency from Neuralink.

      If they broke their Hippocratic oath by not studying the pertinent data (from Neuralink s animal studies and medical literature regarding other implants) then something has gone wrong with the wider medical system.

      It is not in Neurolink's interests to take shortcuts and endure the rightful backlash for being negligent.

  6. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Long term care after the tech is declared obsolete

    > However, there is no information on what might constitute an adverse reaction nor how the implant would be removed if required.

    We are rightly concerned about how Neuralink are going to behave if things go wrong, but we should also be asking about their plans if things go right.

    How long are these implants intended to work? What will happen when they reach their natural end of life (physical breakdown of parts)? What about when they are declared obsolete and are unnaturally declared EOL by Neuralink - having moved onto the Next Big Thing with a cohort of Bright Young Minds who have no idea how the existing system works?

    Are patients going to receive an email saying, sorry, but in the next hour your ability to communicate with the outside world is going to be switched off? You did keep up practising with the clunky old pick-a-word board, didn't you?

    The recipients of Second Sight's visual implants have been through this - are there signs that Neuralink (or any other commercial implant company) are taking their long-term responsibilities seriously?

    At a bare minimum, placing *full* details of the device and support systems into escrow, in hopes that someone is able to at least try and help the victims.

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Long term care after the tech is declared obsolete

      From what I have read it is highly unlikely that the patients selected for this trial will live beyond the length of the trail due to the nature of their illnesses.

      The FDA requires that the device either last for the remainder of the patient's natural life or there be an approved process for removing it, since we have not seen Nuralink submit a process for removing it we can assume that they have gone for the first option. Once the patient is dead they will likely use the body to develop the removal process prior to testing it on living patients.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a troubling lack of transparency"

    Well, it's His Muskiness. What do you expect ?

    1. Bendacious

      Re: "a troubling lack of transparency"

      "Well, it's His Muskiness. What do you expect ?"

      From Phoney Stark I expect:

      • Claims that the technology will be in the shops in 6 months.

      • The technology will be named "Auto Telekinesis" but if the user isn't in full control at all times it fatally crashes.

      • He will Xeet ridiculous hyperbole, then Xeet that the company has been over-hyped, crashing the stock price.

      • External oversight and criticism will be treated as a personal attack, prompting public meltdowns, empty threats of fisticuffs and teams of high-priced lawyers attacking non-profits.

      • Claims that Buddhists are pushing the "Earth is a globe" agenda, followed by a trip to meet the Dalai Lama.

    2. Catkin Silver badge

      Re: "a troubling lack of transparency"

      I'd have expected the opposite: Musk parading the patient around to journalists (assuming all is reasonably well). As it is, I think they're erring on the side of caution to protect the patient's privacy.

      If I were a terminal disease sufferer who had just regained some facilities but was still facing a severely shortened lifespan, the last thing I'd want is to be swarmed by journalists at both extremes of the Musk opinion spectrum when I'm trying to make the best of the risk I took.

  8. Dave 126 Silver badge

    It should be noted that the source article is likely from TheConversation.com, in which two contradictory concerns are simultaneously expressed:

    What if the company is profit lead?! and

    What if the company goes out of business?!

    Um... okay.

    https://theconversation.com/several-companies-are-testing-brain-implants-why-is-there-so-much-attention-swirling-around-neuralink-two-professors-unpack-the-ethical-issues-222556

    Articles in the Conversation often follow a format in which a specific news event is used to get a professor or two to speak generally about the field. The length of articles is such that they don't have space to concede points, and thus appear less nuanced than perhaps intended.

  9. Khaptain Silver badge

    If this wasn't Musk

    Personally I think it is phenomenal, albeit scary, controlling something external just by using thoughts.. That's what I call serious science.

  10. Agamemnon

    So basically, that was a lot of trouble to install a Bluetooth fob in a person.

  11. EricB123 Bronze badge

    And the Real Reason for this Silliness Is...

    This sounds like an easy way for Elon to collect training data for his robotics initiative.

  12. aerogems Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Credit Limit Exceeded

    This is the "man" who was just recently caught fluffing himself with a sock puppet account on Xitter... for the second time (that we know of). He's also been lying about FSD for around a decade by now, there's the "Optimus" robot video where he was trying to make it out to seem more advanced than tech that was invented in the 60s, he was lying about the people of Ukraine paying for Starlink service trying to get the US government to double pay him, pretty much every single thing about the CyberTruck was a flat out lie and he was lying about it for literally years... Those are just some of his bigger dishonest moments. We're not even getting into the promoting of Russian propaganda, harassing trans people, the racism, the antisemitism, the xenophobia, and everything else that is an average day on Xitter for him. We'd be here for days trying to list all those things.

    Unless we put this sucker mystery person in an airgapped room, and we can unplug the cable randomly to see if things stop working, I'm not going to believe a single thing out of that lying liar's mouth. After the laundry folding robot video, or the FSD video before that, I'm not going to believe it isn't just a carefully edited fake. I honestly question whether this person even exists given Xitler's history. For all we know, it's just a figment of his imagination, like the (at least) two fluffer accounts he's made to praise himself. Has the FDA, or any other regulatory agency, verified that the person actually exists?

    I will say, however... If, and I consider that word to be doing some very heavy lifting here, but if this is actually true, then the whole "focus follows mind" utopia I've been dreaming of might just happen within my lifetime.

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