Neuralink has received approval from the US medical regulator FDA to test a mind reader on humans. Elon Musk’s company has developed a brain implant that allows the brain to communicate directly with a computer.
The mind reader should enable paralyzed people to move their muscles again. Neuralink also wants to give blind people their sight back. According to the company, this should even be possible for people who were born blind.
The brain chip has already been tested on thousands of animals in recent years. During a test on a monkey, the animal was able to play the fifty-year-old game Pong play through his mind. The mind reader recorded the monkey’s brain activity and translated that into the movement of the board to bounce the ball.
Neuralink came under fire because of those animal experiments. During the development of the mind reader, “unnecessarily many” animals may have died. Due to the high workload within the company, many animal tests are said to have failed. The tests therefore had to be repeated on other animals.
The company killed 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, a rough estimate of Reuters. It is not clear how many animal lives the development actually cost. The company does not keep accurate records of the number of animals tested and killed. Neuralink has also done research with rats and mice.
Neuralink was founded in 2017 by Musk, who has often set up companies with great ambitions with Tesla, Hyperloop and SpaceX.