After the Pager macaque and the Gertrude pig, the next to test Neuralink’s technology will be a human. And it’s not another indefinite promise from Elon Musk. As I write this, the company is looking for a “clinical trial director” to prepare its landing in the world of the elderly: the very complex (sometimes, unhinged difficult) process of putting a medical device on the market.
A world of possibilities… which until now can be summarized in “much ado about nothing”. Not because in recent years Nauralink has not presented interesting things, but rather because so far its work has been oriented to collect the available technology, package it and design it in an attractive and seemingly safe way. But, at the same time, they have been very careful not to give dates, or establish closed calendars. Now the landing of the project seems imminent.
What does the ad say? “As director of clinical trials, you will work closely with some of the most innovative physicians and top engineers, as well as work with Neuralink’s first clinical trial participants,” the offering explains. “You will lead and help build the team responsible for enabling Neuralink’s clinical research activities and developing the regulatory interactions that come.”
What can we expect? In the short (or even medium) term we can expect little. The timeframes and research requirements for technologies that work directly in the brain are long. Although, as we have seen in the case of xenotransplants, there are fast ways of approval by criteria of compassion (for patients already evicted), Neuralink’s technology is far from even that point.
Of course, it is excellent news that they continue to advance in the project. With its pluses and minuses (less than more, in many cases), it is one of the most interesting initiatives to be able to address one of the last frontiers that resist us: that of the brain.