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Concerns over Elon Musk’s Neuralink chip

The article highlights Concerns over Elon Musk’s Neuralink chip.Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, aims to develop a brain implant with more connections. FDA concerns delayed human trials, including surgical safety, side effects, power supply, wire migration, and data security. Thorough testing is crucial before public release.

What is the context?

Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk in 2016, aims to develop a next-generation brain implant with more brain connections than FDA-approved devices. After obtaining FDA approval for human trials, the question arises: What concerns delayed the technology’s pre-clinical trial phase, and have they been addressed?

Neuralink’s Brain-Computer Interface (BCI):

Neuralink’s BCI, a Class III medical device, connects the brain to an external computer through a Bluetooth signal. It will facilitating continuous communication. Implanted via a precision surgical robot, the coin-sized Link unit is embedded within a skull cutout, connecting tiny threads to neurons in the brain.

Potential Benefits:

Neuralink’s BCI holds promise for precise control of prosthetic limbs, aiding amputees, and revolutionizing treatments for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and spinal cord injuries. It also shows potential in addressing obesity, autism, depression, schizophrenia, and tinnitus. Other neurotechnology companies have already developed BCIs to assist those with limited mobility and aging individuals.

The Road to Human Trials:

Neuralink initially planned to begin human trials in 2021 but faced delays. In March 2022, they applied again to the FDA, and finally, on May 25, 2023, received approval for their first human clinical trial. The approval came after an investigation into potential animal welfare violations by the US Office of the Inspector General.

FDA’s Concerns:

The FDA had a list of issues that needed resolution before commencing human trials. Most concerns required extensive testing and data collection over an extended period. Though the complete resolution remains uncertain, it is reasonable to assume that these concerns have satisfied the FDA’s rigorous approval process.

  • Surgical Safety:

The surgical robot, Implant/r1, had to prove its ability to safely and reliably implant and remove the Neuralink BCI without damaging brain tissue or causing infections, bleeding, inflammation, or scarring.

  • Harmful Side Effects:

The Neuralink BCI must function as intended without unintentionally affecting brain functions or causing unwanted side effects like seizures, headaches, mood changes, or cognitive impairment.

  • Safe Power Supply:

Overheating lithium-ion batteries pose risks. Neuralink conducted extensive tests on their specially designed battery to assess performance, durability, and bio-compatibility. Longevity and safe replacement behind the ear were also considered.

  • Wire Migration:

The risk of wire migration within the brain due to natural movement, inflammation, or scar tissue formation required extensive animal studies. Neuralink had to demonstrate that wire migration did not significantly affect brain functioning and provide a method for tracking and adjusting wire position.

  • Implant Removal:

The FDA sought assurance regarding the ease or difficulty of removing the BCI from the brain if necessary.

  • Data Privacy and Security:

Strong safeguards were necessary to prevent data hacking, manipulation, or misuse. Neuralink had to guarantee user privacy and protect brain-wave data from interference.

The Way Ahead:

Critics advise proceeding cautiously while acknowledging the potential benefits of Neuralink. Thoroughly addressing the FDA’s concerns over Elon Musk’s Neuralink chip will require time.  It should necessitate avoiding shortcuts to ensure a safe and effective solution.


Neuralink’s ambitious vision aligns with advancements in artificial intelligence. However, before releasing such technologies to the public, exhaustive testing is crucial to ensure their safety. Only then can Musk’s claims of enhanced cognition, telepathic communication, and AI integration be fully evaluated. Regulation and careful consideration of safety remain imperative in the realm of emerging technologies.

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