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What is Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chip ?

Elon Musk Neuralink recently implanted its wireless brain chip in a human for the first time, a year after getting approval for testing. Musk says the patient is doing well. The chip aims to help with movement and create a brain-computer link, but there’s not much detail yet.

Elon Musk has hailed Neuralink as the future of technology and medicine, yet ethical concerns surround its chip and testing.

Here’s what you should know about Neuralink and its human trials.

What is Neuralink and what are its functions?

Neuralink, established by Musk in 2016, is a brain-chip startup. Its coin-sized device is surgically implanted in the skull, with ultra-thin wires creating a brain-computer interface (BCI). The disk records brain activity and transmits it to devices like smartphones via Bluetooth. The first product, Telepathy, enables phone or computer control through thought.

Musk aims to help individuals with neurological disorders by implanting the chip in the motor function brain region. Initial users will likely be those with limb loss.

Neuralink’s human trial phase


During the human testing phase, data will be gathered to assess safety and effectiveness, with the aim of refining the device.

According to Musk during X on Monday, “initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” indicating the exchange of electrical and chemical signals among neurons throughout the body, crucial for everyday functions.

Initially seeking trial participants with spinal cord diseases, Neuralink began its search in September.

Human trials were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2023, despite federal investigations into the safety of animal trials.

Neuralink Testing in Past

Neuralink conducted chip testing on monkeys and pigs, showcasing monkeys engaging in basic video games or manipulating a cursor via their Neuralink implants.

While Neuralink asserts no monkey fatalities due to implants, concerns arise regarding reported implant-related issues in monkeys, such as paralysis, seizures, and brain swelling.

Is Neuralink Safe?

Critics have voiced worries over Neuralink’s animal experimentation involving brain chips and the inherent risks of brain surgery, such as hemorrhage or seizures.

Moreover, Musk’s concept of implants has stirred apprehensions regarding privacy and surveillance. Concerns persist regarding users’ control over personal data and neural activity, with limited information available on this front.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Transportation fined Neuralink for failing to register as a transporter of hazardous material—implants extracted from primate brains—based on records from the federal agency scrutinized by Reuters.


In a recent announcement on X, Elon Musk revealed that Neuralink’s inaugural offering would be dubbed Telepathy. According to Musk, Telepathy promises to grant users control over their electronic devices, including phones and computers, simply through thought commands.

Musk highlighted that the initial beneficiaries of Telepathy would be individuals who have lost limb functionality, emphasizing its potential impact. Drawing inspiration from the late physicist Stephen Hawking, Musk envisioned a scenario where individuals with motor neuron disease could communicate with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

While Musk’s involvement garners attention for Neuralink, competitors in the field boast extensive experience spanning over two decades. Blackrock Neurotech, based in Utah, has been implanting brain-computer interfaces since 2004. Additionally, Precision Neuroscience, founded by a co-founder of Neuralink, focuses on assisting individuals with paralysis through a novel implant design resembling a thin tape placed on the brain’s surface, implanted via a simpler cranial micro-slit procedure.

Furthermore, existing devices have demonstrated promising outcomes. Recent scientific studies in the United States showcased implants monitoring brain activity during speech attempts, with potential applications in decoding and facilitating communication for individuals with communication difficulties.