The setback deals a severe blow to Neuralink’s first brain implant patient, but he remains optimistic

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All work is strictly regulated by the FDA, which evaluates the risks and benefits of the procedures and is expected to first consider the use of these devices in people with severe disabilities or degenerative diseases. (The agency did not comment specifically on Neuralink, but said it requires routine reporting of expected and unexpected events in such studies.)

Beyond that, researchers are divided over the prospect of widespread use by people without disabilities, who might want an implant to communicate without speaking or to download a language, as Musk has mused. Some researchers predict that availability for general consumers will occur decades from now. Others argue that activities such as surfing in the shower will never be allowed, given the risk of contagion from repeated brain surgery over a lifetime.

Mr Angle, of Paradromics, said he could imagine a progression from use in people without the ability to speak or walk to those with serious mental health problems who have resisted treatment.

From there, he said, consumer use could be a decade away. After all, she said, the idea of ​​Botox went from absurd to mainstream in just as much time.

“If 100 years ago you said, ‘Hey, rich people are going to inject botulism into their faces,’ that sounds totally absurd,” he said. “Once the risks are understood and people can make informed decisions, everything becomes reasonable.”

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