Advertisement
New Zealand markets open in 7 hours 37 minutes
  • NZX 50

    12,134.97
    +76.68 (+0.64%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.6121
    +0.0024 (+0.39%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    8,206.10
    +72.70 (+0.89%)
     
  • OIL

    82.18
    -0.44 (-0.53%)
     
  • GOLD

    2,416.00
    -5.90 (-0.24%)
     

Elon Musk claims Neuralink’s first patient implanted with brain chip can already move a computer mouse with their mind

Getty Images

It isn’t quite the cyborg superhuman with telepathic powers that Elon Musk aspires to, but everyone has to start somewhere.

During a Spaces discussion, the Neuralink owner finally lifted the veil on the progress made by the first volunteer allegedly implanted last month with a microchip in their brain, saying the individual has made a full recovery and can even communicate with a computer using only their mind.

“Patient is able to move a mouse around the screen by just thinking,” Musk said late on Monday on his social media platform, X, according to a report by Reuters.

Roughly the size of a quarter, Neuralink’s N1 brain-computer interface (BCI) is designed to both record and transmit neural activity with the help of over 1,000 electrodes distributed across dozens of different filaments, each thinner than a human hair.

ADVERTISEMENT

Implanting the device is such a delicate procedure, the company has built a dedicated surgical machine dubbed the R1 just to connect the chip to an area of cerebral tissue responsible for movement.

Musk has said he’d like to one day use the N1 to power fully functioning cybernetic limbs for amputees manufactured with the help of Tesla’s expertise. However, Musk aims to start off by first curing quadriplegics before moving on to restoring eyesight for the blind using Neuralink’s first product, which he named “Telepathy.”

The entrepreneur did not provide any conclusive evidence for his BCI claims: There is, for example, no footage of the procedure nor interview with the patient, and no official announcement from the company since it began recruiting human test subjects in September. While that could very well be due to privacy reasons, Musk is known to greatly embellish his companies’ often already impressive list of accomplishments.

Last year, for example, one of Tesla’s chief engineers testified to having been ordered by Musk to deliberately stage a promotional video in order to mislead customers as to the true state of his self-driving technology.

Penchant for promotion

How generous or sparing Musk is with the full facts is for that reason a subject of extensive discussion. Only this week he stated definitively that Tesla would never reveal a concept car he wouldn’t put into production—a dig at a common industry practice used to drum up positive publicity.

Within minutes he promptly received a reminder that his next-gen Roadster—with its claimed 620 miles of range at highway speed and world-record quarter-mile time below nine seconds—is nowhere to be seen four years after it was due to hit markets. Officially it remains “in development,” but Tesla has all but stopped talking about the model, and it doesn’t have a designated manufacturing site.

Even the Semi truck, revealed in the very same presentation as the Roadster and scheduled for a 2019 launch, for all intents and purposes does not exist as a commercial product. Only one company is known to possess a small number of the vehicles, and no sales numbers are published. Tesla said in last month’s annual 10-K filing the commercial hauler has not proceeded beyond its 2022 stage of “early production.”

Yet merely making the claims can prove beneficial. It helps feed and sustain Musk’s reputation as a visionary entrepreneur able to accomplish the seemingly impossible. It also appears aimed at convincing hobby investors to either buy more shares in Tesla or at least not sell them. In addition, his image as an industry maverick acts as a suit of armor against critics.

Musk’s readiness to make claims that suit him in the moment only to forget them later has also landed the entrepreneur and his companies in legal hot water, whether for trying to back out of the Twitter deal over a sudden change of heart or for driving up Tesla’s share price with his “funding secured” tweet.

For this penchant to promote his products beyond what might be legally advisable, he has been called a “compliance officer’s nightmare.”

To minimize the chances a court might hold him accountable in the future for the things he has either said or done, he is now engaging in a form of regulatory and legal arbitrage. After losing a case in Delaware’s chancery court over his pay package, he began reincorporating his businesses in friendlier states, Neuralink included.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com