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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Mar 21, 2024
)

Watch Neuralink Video Showing Brain Implant Patient Playing Laptop Chess With His Thoughts.

Elon Musk co-founded Neuralink in 2016 and recently, the company showed off a groundbreaking development: 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh, who is paralyzed, had a Neuralink brain implant put in. After an eight-year paralysis from the shoulders down from a diving accident, Arbaugh appeared on X (formerly Twitter) site through a livestream--to play chess, using his thoughts.

During this show, he used the Neuralink device to show that he could run a computer and play online chess and the video game Civilization with just his thoughts. Neuralink has made a big step forward in their quest to create a brain-computer interface (BCI) system that can read brain waves and figure out what a person wants to do with their body. After getting permission from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Neuralink started its first human trial. Paralyzed people were recruited to test how well the device worked. The patient describes the experience of using the Neuralink implant as akin to wielding the Force from the Star Wars franchise, allowing him to effortlessly move the cursor on the screen with his mind's direction. Elon Musk himself, the founder of Neuralink, praised the demonstration as a glimpse into "telepathy," reflecting the remarkable potential of the technology.

Through sophisticated software, Neuralink analyzes brain signals and translates them into commands to control external devices, such as a computer cursor or keyboard. Arbaugh's testimonial extends beyond chess-playing; he reveals that the Neuralink implant enabled him to indulge in an eight-hour gaming session of Civilization VI, albeit with interruptions for recharging. This demonstration follows the FDA's approval of Neuralink's in-human clinical trials last year, signalling a significant stride towards integrating BCIs into medical practices. Neuralink's pursuit of test subjects for a six-year trial underscores its commitment to advancing the accessibility and functionality of the technology.

This video release marks a pivotal moment for Neuralink, representing the first instance where the company has publicly shared footage of a human utilizing their brain implant. This revelation follows Musk's earlier announcement in January, affirming the successful implantation of the technology in the first trial participant. Notably, this achievement arrives nearly three years after Neuralink showcased a monkey controlling a cursor to play Pong, demonstrating the technology's capabilities.

While the concept of controlling devices through a brain-computer interface isn't entirely novel, with precedents dating back to 2004, Neuralink's wireless transmission of data represents a significant leap forward. Unlike earlier iterations that relied on protruding wires, Neuralink's technology offers a seamless interface, enabling Arbaugh to engage in conversation while manipulating the cursor—an aspect applauded by experts for its innovation.

Source: Neuralink

Despite the commendations, some experts caution against overstating the significance of this demonstration, refraining from labelling it as a "breakthrough." Other companies, including BlackRock and Synchron, have also made strides in developing brain-computer interfaces for paralyzed patients. Synchron's less-invasive approach, although potentially limiting in neural data gathering, presents another avenue in the race to enhance assistive technologies. Additionally, competitors like Paradromics and Precision Neuroscience are actively working on brain implants to rival Neuralink's offerings, further intensifying the field's competition.

However, Neuralink's journey hasn't been without controversy. Critics have raised concerns about the company's trial conduct, citing a lack of transparency regarding subjects and assessment outcomes. Previous experiments involving monkeys have sparked controversy, with reports of complications leading to euthanasia underscoring the ethical considerations. Arbaugh's testimonial seeks to assuage safety concerns, emphasizing the ease of the surgical procedure and his lack of cognitive impairments post-implantation. Despite these reassurances, ongoing discussions persist about the ethical implications and potential risks associated with such emerging technologies.

Elon Musk envisions a future where Neuralink's technology transcends its initial assistive purposes, potentially enhancing the capabilities of healthy individuals through brain implants. Noland attests to the life-changing impact of the implant, underscoring the profound potential of Neuralink's technology to empower individuals with disabilities and reshape human-computer interaction paradigms.

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