Would YOU sign up? 'Thousands of people' want to have a portion of their skull ... trends now
The idea of having a portion of your skull removed and a brain chip implanted might sound like the stuff of nightmares.
But 'thousands of people' have expressed an interest in doing just that, according to a new report.
Elon Musk's company, Neuralink, has a vision of treating conditions such as paralysis and blindness by linking brains to computers with the help of microchips.
But to achieve this, it needs a number of volunteers 'willing to have a chunk of their skull removed' so that a robot can insert a chip into their brain and prove that the technology works in people.
The implants have so far only been tested on monkeys and pigs.
Keen: Thousands of people are said to have expressed an interest in having one of Elon Musk's controversial brain chips implanted into their skull as part of an experimental human trial
How it works: The chips are designed to interpret signals produced in the brain and relay information to devices via Bluetooth, with the aim being to enable a participant to control a computer cursor or a keyboard using just their thoughts
Elon Musk's Neuralink is working to link the human brain with a machine interface by creating micron-sized devices.
Neuralink was registered in California as a 'medical research' company in July 2016, and Musk has funded the company mostly by himself.
It is working on what Musk calls the 'neural lace' technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts.
The technology is initially planned to be used to help people suffering from severe degenerative brain disorders such as ALS, but it could have wider uses in years to come.
One of Musk's biographers, Ashlee Vance, suggested that Neuralink had received 'an outpouring of interest from thousands of prospective patients' wanting to act as a human guinea pig.
He said that the firm had yet to implant its device in a human but aimed to operate on 11 people next year and more than 22,000 by 2030.
It is unclear if participants will be paid to take part.
Neuralink launched a recruitment drive for the first human trials in September, saying it was seeking people with paralysis to test its experimental device as part of a six-year study.
But the company has been dogged by controversy in recent years, having sparked ethical concerns and drawn skepticism among neuroscientists and other experts.
Vance, who authored the 2015 biography 'Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future', wrote in a Bloomberg report that the ideal candidate for Neuralink's first human trial was 'an adult under age 40 whose four limbs are paralysed'.
He explained that it would take a 'couple of hours' for a surgeon to perform a craniectomy and a further 25 minutes for the chip to be inserted by a robot into the area of the brain which controls the hands, wrists and forearms.
'The goal is to show that the device can safely collect useful data from that part of the patient's brain, a key step in Neuralink's efforts to convert a person's thoughts into a range of commands a computer can understand,' Vance added.
He said the implant would relay this information to a nearby laptop or tablet.
Vance, who said he had visited Neuralink's facilities 10 times in three years, also revealed how Musk had pushed his company to ward off the threat of similar brain-computer start-ups