Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface (BCI) startup Neuralink has reportedly received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct some sort of “in-human” testing for its surgically implanted brain device.
It’s currently unclear what kind of tests Neuralink’s Twitter is referring to — the only other information mentioned is that the company isn’t accepting applicants yet.
Neuralink was denied FDA approval for human trials in early 2022 due to several safety concerns, which the company was said to be working to address at the time.
The FDA’s apparent circular suggests that such concerns have been made, and the company should be free to conduct limited testing of the surgically implanted BCI device.
Describing the function of BCI, Elon Musk said it helps with some medical and mobility issues. BCIs have been developed for the treatment of many conditions such as epilepsy. They also provide quality-of-life services for people with disabilities, such as the ability to control a mouse pointer with eye movements or thoughts.
Musk also said that this device will be developed for the general public as a general purpose BCI, which will allow humans to interact with machines in thought and prevent us from being replaced by machines.
So far, Neuralink has been approved to conduct research on laboratory animals such as monkeys and pigs. The company recently faced a federal investigation into animal abuse; However, Neuralink denied any wrongdoing, and the investigation appears to have ended quietly. A separate investigation is ongoing as the shipment of contaminated goods is suspected.
With human experimentation on the table, Musk’s vision of human hybrids and artificial intelligence (AI) is one step closer. So it may be time for developers and entrepreneurs to start considering applications and use cases of recreational, surgically implanted BCI.
Musk also proposed that BCIS would allow people to operate smartphones faster with their brains. Recent research at the University of Texas has shown that AI systems similar to ChatGPIT have been trained to interpret brain waves to some degree.
Related: Scientists in Texas have created a GPT-like AI system that reads minds
But perhaps the most interesting use case for the cryptocurrency and blockchain communities comes from Microsoft. In the year Several patents filed in 2018 and 2019 describe a system in which a wearable “sensor” can be engineered to provide “proof of work” for cryptocurrency rewards and blockchain mining and verification.
According to one of the patent documents:
“For example, brainwaves or body temperature generated from the user when the user performs a task given by the data or service provider, such as viewing advertisements or using certain Internet services, can be used in the mining process.”
As Neuralink described in its original research paper and using a BCI of the type described in Microsoft’s patent, it should be possible to natively verify brain waves, thereby enabling “proof of work” in theory. Alone.