Elon Musk says brain chip start-up Neuralink will livestream its first human implant surgery later this year, allowing select media outlets to monitor the procedure.
Musk made the declaration while speaking at the Viva Technology conference held in Paris this past Friday.
The tech billionaire said the first test subject to receive the brain implant will be a tetraplegic or paraplegic patient and take place “later this year."
Musk, co-founder of the California-based start-up, said the surgery will be streamed via a webcast monitored by the Reuters news organization.
Musk did not mention if the webcast would be available to any other media outlets or the public, in real-time, or at a later date.
Back in 2021, Neuralink presented a YouTube livestream of a chip-implanted monkey demonstrating how it played Pong with its mind, and in 2020 livestreamed the neural movements of a pig named Gertrude.
Musk also did not specify how many patients would be involved in its first-ever human trial, or how the company would choose its test subjects.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only gave Neuralink approval to conduct in-human clinical trials using a surgical robot just last month.
“Recruitment is not yet open for our clinical trial. We’ll announce more information on this soon!” Neuralink had said as part of its FDA milestone announcement on Twitter.
To note, there is a patient registry link on the Neuralink website's homepage.
Although the company first filed for FDA approval in early 2022, Musk had teased the media that Neuralink would begin human trials on at least four occasions since 2019.
Musk’s 2022 FDA bid was rejected over safety issues, including the device’s lithium battery, possible wire migration into brain tissue, and implant removal.
Meanwhile, Neuralink has been under intense scrutiny by several US federal agencies and animal safety advocates for its reported mishandling of animal experiments. Critics say the company was "sloppy" in its effort to rush through the trial-and-error process associated with scientific research.
Last year, Neuralink employees claimed Musk pressured staff to produce data that would win FDA approval by rushing surgical experiments on animals, resulting in a high number of unnecessary animal deaths.
In one instance in 2021, the company implanted 25 out of 60 pigs with the wrong-sized devices, sources told Reuters.
The inside sources told Reuters that all the pigs were subsequently killed — an error that employees said could have been easily avoided with more preparation.
The US Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General is examining those animal-welfare violation claims.
US lawmakers are also investigating claims that those serving on the Neuralink animal testing board may have contributed to the rush due to their own conflicting financial interests.
Those board members happen to hold stock In Neuralink, which has risen nearly 150% in value since 2021. The company was founded in 2016.
Additionally, the US Department of Transportation is investigating separate charges related to improper containment and transportation of dangerous pathogens found on implanted chips removed from monkey brains.
Experts say even if Neuralink can prove its device is safe for humans, it would still most likely take more than a decade to clear the FDA for commercial use.
Musk, who has been chomping on the bit to begin human trials, has said that Neuralink's brain chip implants will restore full mobility to paralyzed patients.
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