Updated March 21st, 2024 at 10:20 IST

Neuralink shows first brain-chip patient playing online chess; Musk says 'inspiring'

Arbaugh, who had received the implant in January, had previously demonstrated the ability to control a computer mouse using his thoughts.

Reported by: Business Desk
Neuralink brain-chip technology | Image:Republic
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Neuralink: Elon Musk's brain-chip startup Neuralink reached a significant milestone on Wednesday by livestreaming its first patient using a chip implanted in his mind to play online chess.

The patient, Noland Arbaugh, 29, who was paralysed below the shoulder due to a diving accident, showcased the capabilities of the Neuralink device by playing chess on his laptop and controlling the cursor with his mind. The revolutionary implant aims to empower individuals to manipulate a computer cursor or keyboard solely through their thoughts.

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In a livestream on Musk's social media platform X, Arbaugh expressed his experience, stating, “The surgery was super easy. I literally was released from the hospital a day later. I have no cognitive impairments.”

Arbaugh, who had received the implant in January, had previously demonstrated the ability to control a computer mouse using his thoughts, as disclosed by Musk last month.

Reflecting on his regained abilities, Arbaugh exclaimed, "I had basically given up playing that game... you all (Neuralink) gave me the ability to do that again and played for 8 hours straight."

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While acknowledging the transformative impact of the technology, Arbaugh noted, "It's not perfect... there's still a lot of work to be done, but it has already changed my life."

"One of the most inspiring pieces of content I’ve ever watched," Elon Musk commented on the same.

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Kip Ludwig, former program director for neural engineering at the US National Institutes of Health, offered insight into the achievement, stating that while it wasn't a "breakthrough," it marked a positive development for the patient. Ludwig emphasised the need for continued learning and optimisation to enhance control and functionality.

Neuralink's demonstration comes amid scrutiny, with Reuters reporting issues with record-keeping and quality controls for animal experiments at the company. This revelation emerged less than a month after Neuralink announced FDA clearance to test its brain implants in humans. The company did not respond to inquiries regarding the FDA inspection.

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(With Reuters inputs.)

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Published March 21st, 2024 at 09:12 IST