Neuralink, the Elon Musk-backed company seeking to build brain implants to communicate with machines, has said it hopes to begin trials on human patients by the end of next year.
The secretive 100-employee company revealed its vast ambitions in a presentation on Tuesday night aimed at recruiting more experts.
“We want to have the best talent in the world,” Mr Musk said at the California Academy of Sciences. The chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX said the ultimate goal of Neuralink was to allow humans to achieve “a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence”.
Mr Musk said humans were at risk of being overtaken by AI-equipped machines but, if the brain couldbe enhanced with computer connectivity, “we can go along for the ride”.
He said the company had begun testing on rats and was working with the University of California, Davis on monkeys. “A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain,” he said.
他表示，该公司已开始在老鼠身上进行测试，并与加州大学戴维斯分校(University of California, Davis)合作用猴子实验。“有一只猴子能用其大脑控制电脑。”他说。
Neuralink is just one player in an emerging field that could enhance human functionality or equip paraplegics with robots they can control with their minds. Others include Facebook and CTRL-labs, the Amazon Alexa Fund-backed start-up that is trying to take a less invasive approach.
Neuralink只是一个新兴领域的参与者之一，该领域有望增强人体机能，或为截瘫患者配备可用大脑操控的机器人。其他参与者包括Facebook及CTRL-labs，后者是由亚马逊(Amazon) Alexa Fund支持的一家初创企业，正试图采取一种侵入性较小的方法。
Neuralink intends to insert proprietary chips and information strips it calls “threads” into people’s brains, which it said could bring huge medical advances.
“I’ve been humbled by how helpless we are treating neurological diseases,” said Matthew MacDougall, Neuralink’s head surgeon. “We have the potential, for the first time in history, to solve some of these problems.”
Executives said their first emphasis would be to help patients with severe brain disorders but the goal was to design a miniature, wireless implant controlled through an iPhone app. They spoke of communication via thought alone and of restoring motor and sensory functions, such as giving sight to the blind.
Max Hodak, Neuralink’s president, said the company would seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to start clinical trials on humans as early as next year. In a research paper, it said it had performed at least 19 surgeries on animals to insert its “threads”.
Neuralink的总裁马克斯•霍达克(Max Hodak)表示，该公司将争取美国食品药品管理局（Food and Drug Administration，简称FDA）的批准，最早于明年开始人体临床试验。在一篇研究论文中，该公司表示已经在动物身上进行了至少19次植入“线”的手术。
But he acknowledged that the pathway to development would be long and require outside help and academic partnerships.