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Elon Musk’s Neuralink Brain Chip to Patient Plays Online Chess

Elon Musk’s brain-chip company, Neuralink, has demonstrated its first patient controlling a cursor on a computer through an implanted device.

During a nine-minute live broadcast on X, formerly Twitter, Noland Arbaugh utilized the cursor to engage in online chess. Mr. Arbaugh, who became paralyzed below the shoulders following a diving accident, underwent the chip implant procedure in January.

The primary objective of the company is to establish a connection between human brains and computers to address complex neurological conditions.

“The surgery was incredibly straightforward,” remarked Mr. Arbaugh during the presentation. He also shared his experience of using the brain implant to play the video game Civilization VI, stating that Neuralink had granted him “the ability to do that again and play for eight hours straight.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Arbaugh acknowledged that the new technology is not flawless and that they “have encountered some challenges.”

Neuralink’s device, approximately the size of a one-pound coin, is surgically implanted into the skull, featuring microscopic wires capable of reading neuron activity and transmitting wireless signals to a receiving unit.

The company has conducted trials involving pigs and asserted that monkeys could engage in a basic version of the video game Pong.

Neuralink received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2023 to conduct human trials with the chip.

Neuralink is among several companies and university departments striving to refine and eventually commercialize this technology. For instance, the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, has successfully enabled Gert-Jan Oskam, who is paralyzed, to walk simply by thinking about the movements involved. This achievement was facilitated by electronic implants placed on Mr. Oskam’s brain and spine, wirelessly transmitting thoughts to his legs and feet. Details of this breakthrough were published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature last year.

The human brain comprises approximately 86 billion neurons, which are nerve cells connected to each other by synapses. Each time we desire to move, feel, or think, a minute electrical impulse is generated and rapidly transmitted from one neuron to another.

Scientists have devised devices capable of detecting some of these signals—either through a non-invasive cap placed on the head or wires implanted directly into the brain.

This technology, known as a brain-computer interface (BCI), appears to be the focus of millions of dollars in research funding at present.



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