Neuralink's First Human Subject Demonstrates 'Telepathy'

Noland Arbaugh shows how he can control his computer by thinking
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2024 12:30 AM CDT

Noland Arbaugh, the first human to receive a Neuralink brain-computer implant, demonstrated how the device works in a livestream the company posted to X Wednesday. In it, the 29-year-old plays two games on his computer (chess and Civilization), showing how he can move the cursor around the screen simply by thinking, Wired reports. He compared it to using "the force" from Star Wars, the Wall Street Journal reports. Arbaugh was a camp counselor in 2016 when a diving accident at a Pennsylvania lake left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. "I just can't even describe how cool it is to be able to do this," he said on the livestream while playing online chess. He talked about the process of training the BCI to respond accurately to his thoughts, and said that with practice, it has become much easier and quicker.

Not many concrete details were given, and Neuralink has been criticized for a lack of transparency in the past, but a Neuralink engineer who was on the livestream said more details would be forthcoming soon. Arbaugh did say the surgery to get the BCI implanted was easy and he was released from the hospital a day later. He said he's suffered no cognitive impairments and that in his opinion there's "nothing to be afraid of." The Journal notes that a brain chip first implanted in a human two decades ago also allowed a paralyzed person to use their thoughts to move a computer cursor, but that one required wires to protrude through the skin and connect to a device outside the brain. Neuralink's implant, called "Telepathy," is wireless. (More Neuralink stories.)

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