April 23, 2024

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A Neuralink video shows a patient using a brain implant to play chess on a laptop

A Neuralink video shows a patient using a brain implant to play chess on a laptop

Elon Musk's brain-computer interface company Video released It purports to show the first human patient using a Neuralink brain implant to control a mouse cursor and play a game of chess.

The patient, 29-year-old Noland Arbo, said he was injured in a diving accident eight years ago, which left him paralyzed below the shoulders. Arbaugh describes using the Neuralink implant as being like using the force of… star Wars privilege, allowing him to “stare somewhere on the screen” and move the cursor where he wants.

The video marks the first time Neuralink has shared footage of a human using a brain implant, after Musk announced in January that the trial's first participant was “recovering well” after the technology was implanted. This comes just under three years after the company released a video showing a monkey controlling an on-screen cursor to play ping-pong using the technology.

This type of control via BCI is not entirely new; The Wall Street Journal Notes That in 2004 a paralyzed person was also able to move the cursor thanks to the help of a brain-computer interface. But this earlier iteration of the technology wasn't able to transmit data wirelessly like Neuralink, and relied on wires protruding through the skin. The fact that Arbaugh was able to carry on a conversation while moving the cursor is also notable, according to Wall Street Journal.

“It's definitely a good starting point,” said Kip Ludwig, co-director of the Wisconsin Institute for Translational Neural Engineering Tells Reuters. But he denied that the demonstration represented a “breakthrough.” Other companies such as BlackRock and Synchron have also shown how paralyzed patients can use brain-computer interfaces to control electronic devices, although Synchron's less invasive approach may not be able to collect as much neural data, the researchers said. Wall Street Journal. Paradromics and Precision Neuroscience are also working on brain implants to compete with Neuralink.

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Neuralink has been criticized for the way it conducted its trials, with critics pointing to a lack of transparency around elements such as the number of subjects or the outcomes it evaluates. Wired Notes. The company's previous experiments on monkeys have also been the subject of controversy, including reports that animals participating in the experiments had to be euthanized after suffering complications including brain hemorrhage, “bloody diarrhea, partial paralysis, and cerebral edema.”

Although Neuralink was initially pitched as an assistive technology, Musk said he eventually wants it to be implanted in perfectly healthy people to enhance their abilities. But this is still a long way off.

Arbault admitted that “there is still a lot of work to be done” and that the team “had some problems.” But he also says the transplant “really changed my life.”