Tesla CEO Elon Musk has claimed that his brain-computer interface company Neuralink may be able to implant a chip into a human brain "later this year".
The Space X billionaire recently showed off a video demonstrating how Neuralink technology allowed a monkey to play videogames using its mind.
Neuralink, which launched in 2016, is centred on creating devices which can be implanted in the human brain.
The startup is working on flexible threads, thinner than human hair, designed to be implanted into the brain to "read” brain activity.
In a Twitter conversation following Neuralink’s most recent video, Musk was asked by a man who had been paralysed in a car accident how soon the technology was likely to be available.
Musk replied: ‘Neuralink is working super hard to ensure implant safety & is in close communication with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). If things go well, we might be able to do initial human trials later this year.’
Musk has made similarly ambitious statements in the past about the technology, which some hope could treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, having said that he would be testing on humans in 2020 in 2019.
Neuralink “ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces” are built to transmit brain impulses to machines, with an end goal, Musk has said, of allowing humans to “merge” with artificial intelligence (AI).
Last year, the company revealed that it would be using a surgical robot to implant thin thread-like wires into a user’s brain, connected to an external processing unit.
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The company hopes to make the connection wireless.
Scientists behind the project have developed a tiny implant with more than 3,000 electrodes, attached to flexible threads measuring about the tenth of the size of a hair, capable of monitoring about 1,000 neurons.
It would link up to an app, allowing users to control a mobile device, or a mouse and keyboard on a computer.
The company has already performed successful tests of the technology on mice.
Last year, replying to a question from a Twitter user, Musk said that the technology could one day be used to stream music directly into users’ brains.
Musk said that the technology “would solve a lot of brain/spine injuries & is ultimately essential for AI symbiosis”.
Musk has previously said: “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.
“It’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output.”
Watch: Elon Musk shows monkey playing video games with its mind