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Elon Musk unveils first brain chip patient playing chess by ‘telepathy’

Elon Musk unveils first brain chip patient playing chess by ‘telepathy’

Quadriplegic Noland Arbaugh is the first human to have the Neuralink brain chip implanted.

At the end of January, Elon Musk announced that his start-up company Neuralink had successfully implanted a computer chip into a human brain for the first time - and now we've heard from the patient himself.

Neuralink went live on X, the social media company Musk owns, with one of the company's employees talking to Noland Arbaugh, the first human to receive the brain chip.

Arbaugh, 29, revealed that eight years ago he had a "freak diving accident", meaning he was quadriplegic, paralyzed from below the shoulders.

Neuralink aims to give those with paralysis the ability to control devices using just their thoughts, and earlier this year the chip - which is called 'Telepathy' - was implanted into Arbaugh's brain.

In the video posted on X, Arbaugh revealed how the chip had "changed his life".

"I love playing chess and so this is one of the things that y'all have enabled me to do, something that I wasn't able to really do much the last few years," he said.

The video shows Arbaugh playing online chess, and he explained: "It's all being done by my brain."

And it's not just chess - Arbaugh said the chip had allowed him to do a whole bunch of stuff he either couldn't do or couldn't do very easily before, such as learning a language, or playing games like Civilization VI for long stretches of time.

Michael Buckner / Contributor / Getty
Michael Buckner / Contributor / Getty

Arbaugh also said the reason he got involved with Neuralink was because he "wanted to help" and "be a part of something that I feel like is going to change the world", while urging anyone else in a similar position to apply for the human trials.

Neuralink says the threads of its implant are so fine that they can't be inserted by humans, so a specially designed and built surgical robot carries out the procedure.

Arbaugh said the surgery was "super easy" - he was released from hospital the next day and experienced no cognitive impairments from the procedure.

The circular chip is about the size of a coin, with 'threads' attached that connect to the brain. It is surgically implanted through the top of the head.

But it's important to remember that this is the very start of this kind of technology.

"It's not perfect, I would say we have run into some issues," Arbaugh said.

"I don't want people to think that this is the end of the journey. There's a lot of work to be done, but it has already changed my life."

Musk still has sweeping ambitions for Neuralink's future.

He commented under the video posted on X: "Long-term, it is possible to shunt the signals from the brain motor cortex past the damaged part of the spine to enable people to walk again and use their arms normally."

Neuralink was granted clearance in the US last year for its first human trial, and it seems like the company is going full speed ahead - and will likely be posting all about it on X.

Featured Image Credit: neuralink/X