Neuralink knew that a brain implant would not work properly in the first human patient



Elon Musk’s Neuralink knew its brain implant was unlikely to function properly in its first human patient, but went ahead with the surgery anyway, a new report claims.

In January, the company implanted a brain chip in its first patient, Noland Arbaugh, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down following a 2016 diving accident.

But during the surgery, Mr. Arbaugh developed a life-threatening condition that later caused “a number of wires to be withdrawn from the brain,” Neuralink said in a blog update last week.

Now a Reuters report citing “five people familiar with the matter” claims the issue has been “known for years” through animal testing.

Still, the company deemed the risk low enough not to merit a redesign, the sources said.

In January, Neuralink implanted a brain chip in its first patient, Noland Arbaugh, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down following a 2016 diving accident
Elon Musk’s Neuralink knew his brain implant was unlikely to function properly in his first human patient but went ahead with the surgery anyway, a new report claims

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Neuralink is testing its implant to give paralyzed patients the ability to use digital devices by thinking alone – a prospect that could help people with spinal cord injuries.

The company said last week that the implant’s tiny wires, which are thinner than a human hair, were withdrawn from a patient’s brain during the first human trial, resulting in fewer electrodes that could measure brain signals.

The signals are translated into actions, such as moving a mouse cursor on a computer screen.

The company said it managed to restore the implant’s ability to monitor its patient’s brain signals by making changes, including adjusting the algorithm to be more sensitive.

The sources declined to be identified, citing confidentiality agreements they signed with the company.

Neuralink and its executives did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Neuralink is testing its implant to give paralyzed patients the ability to use digital devices by thinking alone – a prospect that could help people with spinal cord injuries
The company said last week that the implant’s tiny wires, which are thinner than a human hair, were withdrawn from a patient’s brain during the first human trial, resulting in fewer electrodes that could measure brain signals. The signals are translated into actions, such as moving a mouse cursor on a computer screen

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was aware of the potential problem with the wires because the company shared animal test results as part of its application to start human trials, one of the people said.

The FDA declined to comment on whether it was aware of the issue or its potential significance.

The agency told Reuters it would continue to monitor the safety of patients enrolled in Neuralink’s study.

If Neuralink were to continue testing without a redesign, it could face challenges if more threads fail and tweaks to the algorithm prove insufficient, one of the sources said.

But redesigning the wires comes with its own risks.

For example, anchoring it in the brain could lead to damage to brain tissue if the wires become loose or if the company has to remove the device, two sources said.

The company has tried to design the wires so that their removal is seamless, so the implant can be updated over time as technology improves, current and former employees say.

Last week’s Neuralink post made no mention of any adverse health effects for Arbaugh and did not reveal how many of the device’s 64 wires withdrew or stopped collecting brain data.

So far, the device has allowed Arbaugh to play video games, surf the Internet and move a computer cursor on his laptop just by thinking, according to company blog posts and videos.

Neuralink says that shortly after the surgery, Arbaugh surpassed the world record for the speed at which he could control a cursor with thoughts alone.

The company has tried to design the wires so that they can be removed seamlessly, so the implant can be updated over time as technology improves, current and former employees say.


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According to outside researchers and sources who have worked at Neuralink and other medical device companies, it is common for medical device companies to troubleshoot different designs during animal testing and for problems to arise during animal testing and clinical testing.

Specialists who have studied brain implants say the moving wires problem is difficult to solve, partly because of the mechanics of how the brain moves in the skull.

Robert Gaunt, a neural engineer at the University of Pittsburgh, described the movement of the wires so soon after surgery as disappointing, but said it was not unforeseen.

“In the first days, weeks, months after an implant like this, this is probably the most vulnerable time,” he said.

In 2022, the FDA initially rejected Neuralink’s application to begin human trials, citing concerns about the wires’ safety, Reuters exclusively reported last year.

Neuralink conducted additional animal testing to address these concerns, and the FDA cleared the company last year to begin testing on humans.

Last week’s Neuralink post made no mention of any adverse health effects for Arbaugh and did not reveal how many of the device’s 64 wires withdrew or stopped collecting brain data

The company found that some of the pigs implanted with the device developed a type of inflammation in the brain called granulomas. This raised concerns among Neuralink researchers that the wires could be the cause, according to three sources familiar with the matter and data seen by Reuters.

Granulomas are an inflammatory reaction of the tissue that can form around a foreign object or infection.

In at least one case, a pig developed a severe case of the condition.

Company records reviewed by Reuters show the pig developed a fever and was panting after the operation.

Neuralink researchers only recognized the extent of the problem after examining the pig’s brain post-mortem.

Inside Neuralink, researchers debated how to fix the problem and began a months-long investigation, sources familiar with the events said.

Ultimately, the company was unable to determine the cause of the granulomas, but concluded that the device and the wires attached to it were not to blame, one of the sources said.

Elon Musk’s hatred of AI explained: Billionaire believes it will mean the end of humans – a fear shared by Stephen Hawking



Elon Musk wants to push technology to its limits, from space travel to self-driving cars – but he draws the line at artificial intelligence.

The billionaire first shared his distaste for AI in 2014, calling it humanity’s “greatest existential threat” and likening it to “summoning the demon.”

Musk also revealed at the time that he was investing in AI companies not to make money, but to keep an eye on the technology in case it got out of hand.

His biggest fear is that in the wrong hands, if AI becomes advanced, it could overtake humans and spell the end of humanity, known as The Singularity.

That concern is shared by many brilliant minds, including the late Stephen Hawking, who told the BBC in 2014: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.

“It would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing pace.”

Despite his fear of AI, Musk has invested in San Francisco-based AI group Vicarious, in DeepMind, which has since been acquired by Google, and in OpenAI, which created the popular ChatGPT program that has taken the world by storm in recent months has conquered.

During a 2016 interview, Musk noted that he and OpenAI founded the company to “democratize AI technology to make it broadly available.”

Musk founded OpenAI with Sam Altman, the company’s CEO, but in 2018 the billionaire attempted to take control of the startup.

His request was denied, forcing him to leave OpenAI and move on to his other projects.

In November, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, which became an instant success worldwide.

The chatbot uses “big language model” software to train itself by sifting through a huge amount of text data so it can learn to generate eerily human-like text in response to a given prompt.

ChatGPT is used to write research papers, books, news articles, emails and more.

But while Altman basks in his glory, Musk attacks ChatGPT.

He says the AI ​​is “woke” and deviating from OpenAI’s original nonprofit mission.

‘OpenAI was created as an open source (that’s why I called it ‘Open’ AI), non-profit organization to serve as a counterbalance to Google, but now it has become a profit-maximizing closed source company effectively controlled by Microsoft , Musk tweeted in February.

The Singularity is making waves around the world as artificial intelligence evolves in ways only seen in science fiction – but what does it really mean?

In simple terms, it describes a hypothetical future where technology surpasses human intelligence and changes the path of our evolution.

Experts have said that once AI reaches this point, it will be able to innovate much faster than humans.

There are two ways in which progress could play out, with the first leading to humans and machines working together to create a world better suited to humanity.

For example, people could scan their consciousness and store it in a computer where they will live forever.

The second scenario is that AI becomes more powerful than humans, takes control and enslaves humans – but if this is true, that is still far in the distant future.

Researchers are now looking for signs that AI is reaching the Singularity, such as the technology’s ability to translate speech with the accuracy of a human and complete tasks faster.

Former Google engineer Ray Kurzweil predicts this will be achieved by 2045.

He has made 147 predictions about technological progress since the early 1990s, and 86 percent of them were correct.

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