What happened to Elon Musk’s First Neuralink Project on Human?

Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company, Neuralink, made a significant stride in the field of brain-computer interfaces by successfully implanting its first brain chip in a human. The recipient of this implant was a 29-year-old quadriplegic named Noland Arbaugh. The surgery took place at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.

Neuralink Project
Credit: Neuralink

Named Telepathy, the Neuralink device is a brain-computer interface the size of a coin, intended for implantation within the brain through a medical procedure. It comprises a chip and electrode arrays consisting of over 1,000 super-thin, flexible conductors, which a surgical robot threads into the cerebral cortex. These electrodes are engineered to detect thoughts associated with movement.

The Purpose and Potential

The main objective of the Neuralink device is to facilitate control of a phone or computer, and consequently, nearly any device, solely through the power of thought. Initially, the device will target individuals who have lost the ability to use their limbs. The overarching vision is to empower individuals like Stephen Hawking to communicate at speeds surpassing those of a skilled typist or auctioneer.

The Complications

Following its initial success, the Neuralink project encountered a substantial setback. The first invasive brain chip implanted into a human brain experienced a malfunction, with threads designed to surveil neurons appearing to have become dislodged from the participant’s brain. The cause behind the threads retracting from the brain, the extent of the retraction, and whether the displaced threads pose any safety risks remain unclear.

The Response and Rectification

Neuralink has successfully resolved the first human brain chip malfunction. To address the loss of connectivity, the company enhanced the implant’s sensitivity to neural signals and modified how these signals are translated into movements with the cursor. These adjustments led to a swift and consistent improvement.

Despite the complications, the Neuralink project represents a significant milestone in the field of neurotechnology. The company continues to work on improving its technology and aims to eventually control robotic arms, wheelchairs, and other technology used by those living with quadriplegia. The world eagerly awaits further developments from this groundbreaking project.

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