(LifeSiteNews) — Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s controversial brain chip company Neuralink is asking for human volunteers to participate in clinical trials, the corporation announced Tuesday.
In a September 19 announcement posted to its website, Neuralink said the company is “happy to announce that we’ve received approval from the reviewing independent institutional review board and our first hospital site to begin recruitment for our first-in-human clinical trial.”
The upcoming study, referred to as PRIME (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface), is intended to “assess the initial functionality of our BCI [brain computer interface] for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts.”
Musk’s company, which he founded in 2016 with a group of scientists and engineers, is set to use a robot to “surgically place” the “ultra-fine and flexible threads” of Neuralink’s “fully-implantable, wireless brain-computer interface” into “a region of the brain that controls movement intention.” The study will “evaluate the safety” of both the implant and the surgical robot.
According to the announcement, “[t]he initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.”
The move to conduct human trials comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greenlit Neuralink’s research under an “investigational device exemption” in May 2023.
“This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people,” Musk’s company wrote in a tweet following news of FDA approval.
Neuralink said on Tuesday that the first clinical trial “represents an important step in our mission to create a generalized brain interface to restore autonomy to those with unmet medical needs.”
Those eligible to sign up to participate in the trial include “[a]nyone within the United States who is at least 18 years old and the age of majority in their state, who is able to consent, and who has quadriplegia, paraplegia, vision loss, hearing loss, the inability to speak, and/or major limb amputation (affecting above or below the elbow and/or above or below the knee).”
While the initial aim of the PRIME research is to work with people with disabilities to “restore autonomy,” Elon Musk has made no secret of his larger plans for the technology.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, Musk has touted the technology as a safeguard against artificial intelligence (AI) eventually becoming “much smarter than humans” and controlling society. According to Musk, only by “merging” with AI will humans develop the capacity to stay ahead of and protect themselves from it.
The ultimate goal of Neuralink is “to secure humanity’s future as a civilization relative to AI,” Musk told the audience in a speech at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2019.
“After solving a bunch of brain related diseases there is the mitigation of the existential threat of AI,” he continued. “This is the point of it.”
“This is something I think that’s going to be really important at civilization level scale,” he said.
Musk reiterated his concerns about AI in an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson in an interview earlier this year.
“Do you think that’s real, it is conceivable that AI could take control and reach a point where you couldn’t turn it off and it would be making the decisions for people?” Carlson asked Musk in the April interview.
“Yeah, absolutely,” the billionaire responded at the time. “That’s definitely where things are headed, for sure.”