Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company, will present its next product update on October 31. The company has provided very few updates to the public in the months since it denied culpability in the deaths of more than a dozen monkeys used in its experiments.
What, exactly, Neuralink will present on Halloween is unclear. Musk simply tweeted that there will be a “progress update show & tell” along with a reminder that October 31 is Halloween.
Neuralink has faced a number of scandals in its relatively short lifetime. Most recently, a government document revealed that Musk had fathered twins with Shivon Zilis, an executive at Neuralink. That topic, at least, is one we can probably rule out from coverage at the Halloween update event.
Something flashy, to be sure — The last big Neuralink update we’ve received came in April 2021, when Musk finally showed off something he’d been teasing for many months: A monkey playing Pong with its mind. Neuralink isn’t the first company to create technology that allows monkeys to play video games via neural signals, but the ability to do so wirelessly is indeed novel.
Musk thrives on performance (remember that Cyber Rodeo?), so we’re fully expecting Neuralink to have something even flashier than a gaming monkey ready for demonstration on Halloween. This is a “show & tell,” after all, not just some sort of investor presentation. Maybe we’ll see some more monkeys marched out on stage to prove they’re alive and well?
Human tests? — Since its founding in 2016, Neuralink has only ever used monkeys as test subjects. Humans are Neuralink’s target consumer audience, though, which means eventually the company will need to conduct testing on homo sapiens.
Right now Neuralink doesn’t have approval from the FDA to conduct human trials with its technology, but earlier this year we did see the company hiring new positions to oversee human trials anyway. We don’t expect to see any working human Neuralink implants shown off at the Halloween update event, but hey, this is Musk we’re talking about.
Neuralink faces many uphill battles in meeting its goal of improving the human condition via human-brain computer interfaces. The company faces criticism from basically every conceivable angle — and so far all it has to show is a Pong-playing primate.