Progress on the path to realizing the first cyborg

English Section / 21 septembrie

Progress on the path to realizing the first cyborg

Versiunea în limba română

The combination of man and machine may become a reality in the not-so-distant future. The idea of a cyborg (a character from speculative fiction in the form of a brain-machine-microprocessor hybrid, according to online dictionaries) is not new at all. After multiple attempts, Neuralink, Elon Musk's company, announced, according to The Guardian, that it has received approval from an independent evaluation committee to recruit patients suffering from paralysis to test its experimental device, which has been in development for several years. Individuals with paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries in the cervical region or those diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may qualify for the new study, the American company said. However, the company did not disclose the number of participants enrolled in these tests, which are expected to take about six years to complete. The study will use a medical robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) in a region of the brain that controls the intention of movement, Neuralink announced, adding that its initial goal is to allow volunteers to control a computer cursor or keyboard solely with their thoughts. The American company, which had previously announced its intention to implant such a device in 10 patients, negotiated a smaller number of volunteers with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the agency expressed certain concerns about patient safety, according to former and current employees of the California-based startup. It is currently unknown how many patients were ultimately authorized by the FDA to enroll in this study. Elon Musk has big ambitions for Neuralink, stating that his company will facilitate the rapid surgical insertion of brain devices to treat conditions such as obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia. In May 2023, Neuralink announced that it had received FDA authorization for its first clinical trials, at a time when the company was under federal scrutiny for its animal testing practices. Even if BCI devices prove to be safe for human use, the American company may need more than a decade before obtaining approval for their commercial use, according to experts in the field. In 2022, the company requested permission from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical studies for the first time, but the request was rejected. In explaining the decision, the American agency cited dozens of issues that the company must address before human testing, a crucial step in product development, according to employees. From the outset of the project, Elon Musk assured that Neuralink would help paralyzed individuals walk, blind people see, and ultimately transform humans into cyborgs. Neuralink is not the only company conducting tests in this sensitive field.

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