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Man uses Elon Musk's Neuralink chip for mind-controlled play chess.

Image : Reuters

Elon Musk's brain technology startup, Neuralink, recently showcased a groundbreaking update during a livestream event featuring its first brain implant patient. The event, streamed on Musk's social platform X, revealed the remarkable progress achieved by a quadriplegic man who successfully played video games and online chess using only his mind.

Neuralink, founded by Musk, has developed an innovative brain implant that enables patients to control computers through their thoughts. Musk has emphasized the company's focus on assisting individuals with severe physical limitations, such as cervical spinal cord impairment or quadriplegia.

During the livestream, the patient, Noland Arbaugh, demonstrated his newfound abilities by effortlessly playing chess and the game Civilization VI on his computer. Arbaugh expressed his astonishment, stating, "I had given up on playing that game." He further described the profound impact of the technology on his life, highlighting the ease of the surgical procedure and his swift recovery.

Arbaugh, 29, recounted sustaining a spinal cord injury in a diving accident eight years ago. Following the Neuralink procedure in January, he was discharged from the hospital within a day, emphasizing the procedure's simplicity. However, Arbaugh acknowledged that there is still room for improvement and refinement in the technology.

Neuralink's brain device represents a significant advancement in the field, boasting a higher number of electrodes compared to other devices. This feature suggests a broader range of potential applications in the future, all without the need for a wired connection to external devices.

Musk hinted at the device's future capabilities, suggesting the potential for restoring vision in individuals with paralysis. He mentioned "Blindsight" as a potential product name, indicating its focus on providing enhanced functionality for paralyzed patients.

While Neuralink's achievements mark significant progress, other research institutions and hospitals, such as the BrainGate consortium, have also demonstrated cursor control through brain implants. However, Neuralink's device stands out for its advanced technology and potential for future developments.

Kip Allan Ludwig, co-director of the Wisconsin Institute for Translational Neuroengineering, commended the milestone achieved by Neuralink, noting its potential to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities. He acknowledged that while Neuralink's accomplishments are not unprecedented, they serve as a promising starting point for further advancements in the field.

Arbaugh's journey, as documented on his Facebook page, reflects his resilience and determination following the accident. He successfully raised funds in 2017 for an accessible custom-built van, underscoring his ongoing efforts to adapt to his new circumstances and embrace technological innovations like Neuralink.

March 21, 2024 11:14 a.m. 4717

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