Neuralink cofounder Elon Musk says that the neurotechnology company plans to put brain chips in humans as soon as next year.
Musk announced the timeline during an interview at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit on Monday — in remarks spotted by Insider — where he was asked about Neuralink’s goals for 2022. The billionaire referenced the company’s success in implanting neurochips in monkeys before outlining its human goals.
"We hope to have this in our first humans — which will be people that have severe spinal cord injuries like tetraplegics, quadriplegics — next year pending FDA approval," Musk said at the event.
Yesterday, Musk took to Twitter to outline the 2022 goal again, saying that progress "will accelerate when we have devices in humans (hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys) next year."
While the timeline might seem ambitious at first blush, it would actually represent a delay from Musk's original goals.
In 2019, Musk said that he hoped to see human trials by mid-2020. Granted, there was a pandemic-sized wrench thrown into those plans. However, this February, Musk tweeted that Neuralink "might be able to do initial human trials later" in 2021 — which didn’t pan out either.
It’s on brand for Musk to completely miss self-imposed deadlines in practically every company he’s been involved with. So we wouldn’t hold our breath on seeing Neuralink actually completing initial human trials next year.
Neuralink is also relatively beleaguered as of late. Rival neurotech startups are beating it to the punch with human trials. Also, it doesn’t help that one of its co-founders has mysteriously departed the company and started a new, and seemingly competitive, neuroscience startup.
Still, if the company can hit the ground running next year with actual human trials, it would mark a major achievement. Let’s just hope that, when the dust settles, it doesn’t end up like some of Musk’s other ventures.
More on brain chips: Researchers Propose Sprinkling Hundreds of Chips into Human Brain