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Elon Musk's brain chip start-up prepares for first human trials

01/21/2022 The position requires candidates who are “motivated” and “willing and willing to go the extra mile” to achieve the company's ambitions. Elon Musk appears close to starting the first-ever human trials of his brain-computer interface technology.

A new vacancy for "Director of Clinical Trials" at Neuralink shows that the neurotech startup is preparing to take its brain chip research to the next stage.

Neuralink has already done trials in pigs and monkeys, including a successful experiment involving a nine-year-old macaque that can play video games using only its mind. Ultimately, the firm hopes to use the technology to enable "human-AI symbiosis."

Early human trials, which Musk says will take place in 2022, will likely involve people with paralysis using a Neuralink interface to gain direct neural control over a computer cursor.

The position requires candidates who are "motivated" and "willing and willing to go the extra mile" to achieve the company's ambitions.

“As Director of Clinical Trials, you will work closely with some of the most innovative physicians and leading engineers, as well as working with early participants in Neuralink clinical trials,” the job description reads.

The first practical applications of Neuralink's technology will include the treatment of people with brain disorders and diseases, Mr. Musk said, which says it will "address important brain and spinal problems with a seamlessly implanted device."

The tech billionaire, who also leads SpaceX and Tesla, claims that the potential of the Neuralink brain chip is almost limitless.

“You can solve the problem of blindness, paralysis, hearing,” he said during the company’s 2020 presentation.

“In the future, you will be able to store and reproduce memories. It's looking more and more like the Black Mirror series... After all, you can download them into a new body or a robot body."

Musk claims that this technology will give people "enhanced capabilities", such as the ability to transmit music directly to the brain.

It is assumed that four such chips will be installed in the human brain. Three will be located in the area of ​​the brain responsible for motor skills, and one in the somatosensory area (responsible for our body's sensation of external stimuli).

Each chip has very thin electrodes, no thicker than a human hair, which will be implanted into the brain with laser precision using a special machine. Neurons will be stimulated through these electrodes.

A 2019 paper by Neuralink researchers describes a brain-computer interface that uses an array of "small and flexible electrode 'threads'" that are surgically implanted into the brain by a robot.

The device itself is "the size of a coin" and can apparently replace part of the skull without causing long-term brain damage.

Future versions will have all-day battery life and be able to connect wirelessly to the wearer's smartphone.

The latest job listing is one of 84 posted on the Neuralink website, which includes roles in robotics, software, animal care, and surgery.

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