Tech and Science

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Now Accepting Canadian Patients – National | Globalnews.ca

Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface (BCI) company Neuralink is now accepting patient applications from Canadians interested in the experimental assistive technology.

The inclusion of Canadians comes as the startup faces criticism from a U.S. lawmaker who has blamed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Neuralink has not been properly verified before testing on humans.

An American has already had the “cosmetically invisible” computer chip implanted in his brain. Last week, Neuralink live-streamed the patient, 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh, as he played online chess using only his mind using the brain chip.

Arbaugh was paralyzed below the shoulders after a diving accident eight years ago. He received the Neuralink implant in January.

On Saturday, Neuralink said its patient registry is now open to Canadian applicants.

Story continues below advertisement

To be considered, a Canadian must be over 18 years of age and “quadriplegiaParaplegia, vision loss, hearing loss, inability to speak and/or major limb amputation (affecting above or below the elbow and/or above or below the knee).

With their application, potential patients compete for a place in Neuralink’s PRIME (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface) study.

According to the company, the PRIME study “could help transform the lives of people living with paralysis,” like Arbaugh.

Neuralink has advertised that patients can use their brain chip to operate a computer or smartphone using only mind control (including the ability to answer calls, surf the Internet, and play online games).

Story continues below advertisement

To work, the Neuralink implant uses a transmitter attached to ultra-fine “threads” that record neural activity. The implant is surgically inserted into a patient’s brain by a robot, the startup’s website says.

The FDA gave Neuralink the green light to conduct its first human trial in September 2023.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world will be randomly delivered to your email address.

But in a letter to the FDA on Monday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer said there was “disturbing evidence” of this Animal testing violations at Neuralink is cause for concern. According to Reuters, the violations date back to at least 2019.

Blumenauer cited a Reuters report detailing employee complaints about “Hack jobs” to do with animal testing. The alleged testing violations were caused by a rushed schedule and resulted in unnecessary suffering and death of laboratory animals.

Story continues below advertisement

According to Reuters, Neuralink did this around 1,500 animals killedincluding more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, in experiments since 2018.

Neuralink, in turn, has confirmed this is committed to animal protection.

Blumenauer asked the FDA to explain how it reconciled reports of such failures with its decision to approve Neuralink’s human trial.

“These alleged violations of standard operating procedures potentially jeopardize animal welfare and impact data collection for human trials,” Blumenauer wrote.

In response to questions from Reuters about Blumenauer’s letter, the FDA said it would respond directly to lawmakers. The agency also said it routinely conducts inspections after a human trial is approved. In its investigation of Neuralink, the FDA said it found no violations that would jeopardize the safety of the study.

Neuralink and telepathy

Neuralink’s brain chip is called Telepathy. In January, Musk likened the product to “if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer.” (Hawking, a theoretical physicist, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.)

Story continues below advertisement

In addition to the chip’s current ability to control a computer or smartphone, Musk hopes the chip will one day help patients regain movement in their limbs.

For Arbaugh, telepathy helped him stay all night playing the video game Civilization 6, again using only his mind as a controller. Arbaugh said he couldn’t have done this before Neuralink.

“It wasn’t feasible for me to play a whole game or anything,” he said. “Now I can literally just lie in bed and play to my heart’s content. Honestly, the biggest limitation at that point was having to wait for the implant to charge after I completely used it up.”

Arbaugh said using Neuralink’s telepathy felt like “harnessing the power” of it war of stars Franchise on the cursor.

“I could move it anywhere I wanted, I would just stare somewhere on the screen and it would move where I wanted it to, it was such a wild experience,” Arbaugh told X in a livestream.

Story continues below advertisement

Arbaugh said he is also learning French and Japanese and has been able to read more easily since his Neuralink surgery.

He said he suffered no “cognitive impairment” from the two-hour surgical procedure.

“It’s not perfect; I would say we ran into some issues,” Arbaugh revealed. “I don’t want people to think this is the end of the journey, there is still a lot to do, but it has already changed my life.”

Neuralink has stated that participants in its PRIME study can withdraw their consent at any time.

— With files from Reuters

&Copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button