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Elon Musk Says 6 Months to First Human Implant of Brain Interface

Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX CEO takes time out to promote Neuralink, a company he co-founded to develop brain-computer interfaces.
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Elon Musk took time out from his Twitter wars to demonstrate the latest developments at Neuralink, the company he co-founded to develop brain implants to link people to computers. 

The move comes amid an increasingly frenetic period for Musk, who took control of Twitter a month ago and has been highly active, and controversial, in his moves since. 

For instance, earlier on Wednesday, Musk  appeared to have made peace with Apple CEO Tim Cook, a day after a series of tweets from Musk complained about fees Apple charges on in-app transactions and that the tech giant was threatening to pull Twitter from the app store. Musk tweeted a brief video thanking Cook for a tour of Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.  

At a Neuralink event a year ago, Musk showed a monkey playing pong using thoughts transmitted through an implant. 

Since then the monkey has received an upgraded implant without complications. 

"We've been working hard to be ready for our first human," Musk said. "We've submitted most of our paperwork to the FDA, and we think that probably in about six months we should be able to have our first Neuralink in a human."

The initial goals for the company are to restore vision and reverse paralysis. Musk said it would be possible to restore vision even in people who were blind at birth. He added that the company ultimately sees "no physical limitation to enabling full body functionality," in people who have suffered a severed spinal cord. 

While creating mind and machine interfaces is the stuff of science fiction, Musk said it's crucial to counter the accelerating development of artificial intelligence. 

"What do we do about digital super intelligence?" Musk asked. "How do we mitigate that risk?"  

And even if artificial intelligence turns out to be benign, how can humans take full advantage of it and "go along for the ride," Musk asked.  He said humans are extremely limited in their ability to interact with laptops and phones, inputing data at between 10 and 100 bits per second in the best case. Computers, by contrast, can now speedily deal with terabytes of data. 

"We are already cyborgs in a way, in that your phone and your computer are extensions of yourself," Musk said.