Neuralink — a neurotechnology startup launched by Elon Musk — is hiring a clinical director as it prepares to begin trials for human brain implants.
A job advertisement from the firm said that the position will “work closely with some of the most innovative doctors and top engineers, as well as working with Neuralink’s first Clinical Trial participants,” helping to “build the team responsible for enabling Neuralink’s clinical research activities and developing the regulatory interactions that come with a fast-paced and ever-evolving environment.”
As reported by Business Insider, Musk announced at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in December that Neuralink wants to start implanting microchips in humans this year. According to Musk, the company’s “standards for implanting the device are substantially higher than what the FDA requires.”
He revealed on December 6 that progress in developing Neuralink’s technology will accelerate in 2022 with human subjects, as it is “hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys.”
Replacing faulty/missing neurons with circuits is the right way to think about it. Many problems can be solved just bridging signals between existing neurons.
Progress will accelerate when we have devices in humans (hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys) next year.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2021
Indeed, Neuralink successfully demonstrated its technology in 2021 with a macaque monkey who played a game of “MindPong.” Without touching a computer interface, the monkey visualized the motions of the on-screen paddle as its fully-implanted neural transmission device executed the moves.
A Neuralink blog post from last year explained that N1 Link — the company’s first device meant for humans — will help quadriplegics access the digital world without using their hands:
Neuralink has spent the last four years building the first high channel count brain machine interface intended for therapeutic use in patients. Our first product, the N1 Link, is a 1024 channel device that, once implanted, is completely invisible and transmits data via a wireless connection. The first indication this device is intended for is to help quadriplegics regain their digital freedom by allowing users to interact with their computers or phones in a high bandwidth and naturalistic way. The funds from the round will be used to take Neuralink’s first product to market and accelerate the research and development of future products.
Link operates using micron-scale threads that contain electrodes connected to an implant.
Beyond brain implants, Tesla — the electric vehicle company led by Musk — is creating humanoid “Tesla Bots.” On social media, Musk noted that the firm is taking steps to avoid a future robot revolt.
“Tesla AI might play a role in AGI, given that it trains against the outside world, especially with the advent of Optimus,” Musk tweeted.
As Electrek editor-in-chief Fred Lambert explained, “Optimus” is Musk’s moniker for the Tesla Bot — and the reference to artificial general intelligence (“AGI”) means that the droids may one day be able to complete any task that a human can do.
Tesla AI might play a role in AGI, given that it trains against the outside world, especially with the advent of Optimus
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 19, 2022
Lambert explained that “this is somewhat surprising considering the many warnings that Musk has issued about creating AGI and the risks to humanity that come with it.” However, Lambert continued that Tesla will take precautions to avoid a “Terminator scenario.”
“Will do our best,” Musk reassured a social media user. “Decentralized control of the robots will be critical.”