Elon Musk’s brain interface company Neuralink is hiring a clinical trial director in a sign that the startup is preparing to begin clinical trials in humans.
“As the clinical trial director, you’ll work closely with some of the most innovative doctors and top engineers, as well as working with Neuralink’s first clinical trial participants,” the advertisement for the role in Fremont, California, states. “You will lead and help 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.”
The applicant must be “mission-driven,” “able to meet tight deadlines with accuracy and efficiency,” and have an “understanding of the clinical trial process from beginning to end.”
Neuralink, which was co-founded by Musk in 2016, aims to build “the first neural implant that will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go,” according to its website.
Referred to as a “fully integrated brain-machine interface (BMI) system” or a “brain computer interface (BCI),” the technology enables a computer and other digital devices to wirelessly directly communicate with the human brain.
In April 2021, Musk promised that the technology “will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs.”
“Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again,” Musk said.
That same month, the neurotechnology startup published a video showing Pager, a 9-year-old macaque, playing computer games through a Neuralink chip inserted in the monkey’s brain. The company also successfully implanted artificial intelligence microchips in the brain of a pig named Gertie in 2020.
During a live-streamed interview at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit in December 2021, Musk said his startup was doing a lot of testing to ensure that the device can be implanted safely and suggested that it may be ready to be used in humans in 2022 but didn’t provide a specific date.
“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 [Food and Drug Administration] approval,” he said.
“I think we have a chance with Neuralink to restore full-body functionality to someone who has a spinal cord injury. Neuralink’s working well in monkeys, and we’re actually doing just a lot of testing and just confirming that it’s very safe and reliable and the Neuralink device can be removed safely.”
A Neuralink spokesperson didn’t respond as of press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
While the United States has been making waves in the field of brain technology, concern is growing that Chinese military officials are also spending billions each year on neuroscience, in an effort to weaponize the brain.
Li Peng, a medical researcher at a subsidiary of China’s state-run Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS), wrote in a 2017 article, “The study into brain science was born out of a vision for how the future warfare would evolve,” and warned that such research has “an extremely strong military characteristic” and is crucial to securing a “strategic high ground” for every country.
In March 2021, a Chinese military-run newspaper described cloud-powered artificial intelligence (AI) “integrating human and machine” as the key to winning wars.
Amid concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s growing interests and activities in biotechnology, the United States in December 2021 placed trade and investment restrictions on China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, the nation’s top medical research institute which is run by the Chinese military.
U.S. officials also placed the same restrictions on 11 affiliated biotechnology research institutes, accusing them of aiding the Chinese military with biotechnology and developing “purported brain-control weaponry.”