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Elon Musk's Neuralink Ready to Test Its Brain Chips on Humans

The company is seeking a director for human brain implant testing, with the 'ability to thrive in a dynamic and constantly changing environment.'
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Got brains? Then Elon Musk may have a job for you.

Neuralink, the brain chip company co-founded in 2016 by the Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report CEO, posted a notice looking for clinical trial director to work with the start-up's first trial participants.

The company is looking to build interfaces between human brains and external electronic devices. 

According to Musk, the first version of this product is able to transmit information on the muscular activity of the person wearing it via Bluetooth technology. In other words, with each of your movements, the chip can identify the location of your muscles. 

Experience With Implantable Medical Devices

The chips would both record and stimulate brain activity with the goal of helping those with serious spinal-cord injuries and neurological disorders.

"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 notice said. "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."

Applicants must have an "ability to thrive in a dynamic and constantly changing environment" along with "experience with implantable Class II or Class III medical devices."

Musk has said in interviews that he hopes to implant the device in human subjects this year.  

“I think we have a chance with Neuralink to restore full-body functionality to someone who has a spinal cord injury," he said in December during the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit. "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.”

Neuralink, which Musk co-founded in 2016, has had success with animal subjects.

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In 2020, the company displayed a pig named Gertrude that has had a coin-sized computer chip in its brain for two months, displaying an early step toward the goal of curing human diseases with the same type of implant. 

'Bad Science Fiction'

Last year the company implanted microchips into the brain of a monkey named Pager that played the video game Pong using only its mind.

The company has also been the target of criticism in scientific circles.

In May, Miguel Nicolelis, who heads the Nicolelis Lab at Duke University, told the publication Inverse that "Mr. Musk doesn't understand a bit of neuroscience and what is the brain...he barely knows where it's located."

“We had a wireless implant [in monkeys] since 2014,” he said. "Neuralink hasn’t done anything that I consider innovative at all." 

Nicolelis also likened the company’s business model to “bad science fiction.”

A month earlier, Anna Wexler, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the Neuralink demo does appear to show significant technical advances," according to the Observer.

“Neuralink’s employees are scientists and engineers working on developing what appears to be a legitimate device for medical purposes," she said. "Yet, the company’s co-founder is fond of making grandiose and bombastic claims about the potential for that same technology to cure all diseases and allow humans to merge with AI."