Elon Musk’s brain implant company, Neuralink, is reportedly appointing a clinical trial director, implying that the company’s long-held objective of implanting chips in human brains is nearing completion.
Musk, who co-founded Neuralink in 2016, has stated that the technology will “enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs.”
The Silicon Valley firm, which has previously implanted artificial intelligence microchips in the brains of a macaque monkey named Pager and a pig named Gertrude, is now looking for a “clinical trial director” to oversee human trials of the technology.
“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,” according to the job advert in Fremont, California.
“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.”
Musk stated last month that he was highly optimistic that the implants would allow tetraplegic people to walk.
“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 in a statement.
“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.”
On the other hand, Musk has a history of overstating the company’s progress. For example, he anticipated in 2019 that the device would be placed in a human skull by 2020.
Musk stated that the device will be “implanted flush with the skull and charges wirelessly, so you look and feel completely normal.”
He added that people should consider the technology as “replacing faulty/missing neurons with circuits,” he said. “Progress will accelerate when we have devices in humans (hard to have nuanced conversations with monkeys) next year,” he said.
Neuralink previously published a video showing a monkey implanted with the chip playing Pong.
The startup, which includes Google’s parent company Alphabet among its backers, is also looking for a “clinical trial coordinator” to establish a team of individuals to administer the experiment and communicate with regulators. Applicants are assured that they would have the “opportunity to change the world and collaborate with some of the smartest and most talented experts from different fields.”