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Musk expects Neuralink’s brain chip to begin human trials in 6 months

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(Last Updated On: December 2, 2022)

Elon Musk said on Wednesday he expects a wireless brain chip developed by his company Neuralink to begin human clinical trials in six months, after the company missed earlier timelines set by him, Reuters reported.

The company is developing brain chip interfaces that it says could help disabled patients to move and communicate again, with Musk adding on Wednesday it will also target restoring vision.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas, Neuralink has in recent years been conducting tests on animals as it seeks approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin clinical trials in people, read the report.

“We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human,” Musk said during a much-awaited public update on the device.

Speaking to a crowd of select invitees in a presentation at Neuralink headquarters that lasted nearly three hours, Musk emphasized the speed at which the company is developing its device.

“The progress at first, particularly as it applies to humans, will seem perhaps agonizingly slow, but we are doing all of the things to bring it to scale in parallel,” he added. “So, in theory, progress should be exponential.”

The FDA said it cannot comment on the status or the existence of any potential product applications.

The first two human applications targeted by the Neuralink device will be in restoring vision and enabling movement of muscles in people who cannot do so, Musk said. “Even if someone has never had vision, ever, like they were born blind, we believe we can still restore vision,” he said.

The event was originally planned for Oct. 31 but Musk postponed it just days before without giving a reason, Reuters reported.

Neuralink’s last public presentation, more than a year ago, involved a monkey with a brain chip that played a computer game by thinking alone.

Musk, who also runs electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla (TSLA.O), rocket firm SpaceX, and social media platform Twitter, is known for lofty goals such as colonizing Mars and saving humanity. His ambitions for Neuralink, which he launched in 2016, are of the same grand scale.

He wants to develop a chip that would allow the brain to control complex electronic devices and eventually allow people with paralysis to regain motor function and treat brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s. He also talks of melding the brain with artificial intelligence, read the report.

Neuralink, however, is running behind schedule. Musk said in a 2019 presentation he was aiming to receive regulatory approval by the end of 2020. He then said at a conference in late 2021 that he hoped to start human trials this year.

Neuralink has repeatedly missed internal deadlines to gain FDA approval to start human trials, current and former employees have said.

Musk approached competitor Synchron earlier this year about a potential investment after he expressed frustration to Neuralink employees about their slow progress, Reuters reported in August.

Synchron crossed a major milestone in July by implanting its device in a patient in the United States for the first time. It received U.S. regulatory clearance for human trials in 2021 and has completed studies in four people in Australia.

Science & Technology

Instagram co-founders launch news app called Artifact

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger this week launched their new venture, Artifact – an app touted as a tailored news feed powered by artificial intelligence.

The co-founders, who left Facebook in 2018 amid tensions with their parent company, shared the roll out on Instagram. Krieger wrote, “Excited to announce what @kevin and I have been working on with a talented team the past year+ — Artifact, a personalized news feed driven by the latest in artificial intelligence.”

He added that while they are gradually letting people onto the app as the company scales up, people can also join a waitlist.

Working in a similar way to TikTok, according to Platformer, Artifact provides users with an initial feed of popular articles chosen from a range of publications big and small. Tapping on articles of interest will prompt Artifact to deliver similar stories in the future, in the same way that watching TikTok videos fine tunes the algorithm with each user session.

Artifact beta users are currently testing two features: One is a feed with articles posted by people you follow, along with their comments on each post; the second is a direct-message inbox where you can privately discuss articles.

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Elon Musk starts another ‘test’ on Twitter

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk on Wednesday said he would make his account private for a day just to test whether his private tweets are equally visible

Since the Twitter takeover in October, the Musk has been making multiple experiments on the tech side of the social media platform. In the newest one, the tech billionaire said he would make his account for a day to test whether his private tweets are equally visible as the public one.

He said in a tweet, made my account private until tomorrow morning to test whether you see my private tweets more than my public ones.

On seeing the tweet on his feed, one Twitter user pointed out, wow I’m in Elon’s private circle. On a similar note, another said, If you’re seeing this tweet, you’re in the circle of trust.

Since the $44-billion takeover, Musk has been under fire for several of his policies. He has focused on reducing costs by laying off half the workforce and introducing new plans for Twitter Blue subscription service, which offers the sought-after “verified” badge, Mintlive reported.

He said that the steps were necessary to justify the expensive takeover.

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Crypto hacks stole record $3.8 billion in 2022 – report

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Last year was the worst on record for cryptocurrency heists, with hackers stealing as much as $3.8 billion, led by attackers linked to North Korea who netted more than ever before, a U.S.-based blockchain analytics firm said in a report on Wednesday.

The report by Chainalysis found hacking activity that “ebbed and flowed” throughout the year, with “huge spikes” in March and October. October was the biggest single month ever for cryptocurrency hacking, with $775.7 million stolen in 32 separate attacks.

The cryptocurrency market floundered in 2022, as risk appetite diminished and various crypto firms collapsed. Investors were left with large losses and regulators stepped up calls for more consumer protection, Reuters reported.

At the time, Chainalysis and other firms confirmed to Reuters that North Korean-related accounts had lost millions of dollars in value.

But that did not deter hackers.

North Korea-linked hackers such as those in the cybercriminal syndicate Lazarus Group have been by far the most prolific cryptocurrency hackers, stealing an estimated $1.7 billion worth of in multiple attacks last year, the report said.

“In 2022, they shattered their own records for theft,” it said.

North Korea has denied allegations of hacking or other cyberattacks.

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