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Video: Paralyzed man uses Elon Musk’s brain chip implant to play chess, move computer mouse

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
March 21, 2024

A viral video shared Wednesday on social media shows a quadriplegic patient controlling a game of chess on a laptop with his mind with the help of Elon Musk’s Nerualink brain chip implant.

Originally uploaded as a livestream, Neuralink’s video features a Neuralink engineer talking with Noland Arbaugh, a 29-year-old quadriplegic patient. According to The Daily Mail, Noland, who is a former Corps of Cadets member at Texas A&M, was paralyzed below his shoulders in a “freak diving accident” while serving as a camp counselor roughly eight years ago.

In January, Musk announced that the first Neuralink brain implant had been successfully implanted in a human. As the first human to receive a Neuralink brain implant, Arbaugh showed viewers Wednesday that he could control a computer mouse and play chess by only using his brain.

“It’s all being done with my brain,” he said. “If y’all can see the cursor moving around the screen, that’s all me, y’all.”

Bloomberg reported that Neuralink’s brain implant is a “brain-computer interface technology that is about the size of a quarter. The implant sends brain signal information to an app that translates the information into actions, such as moving chess pieces on a board.

During Wednesday’s livestream, Arbaugh said that it “became intuitive” for him to “start imagining the cursor moving” after he received the brain chip implant and started practicing on the computer.

“Basically, it was like using the Force on the cursor, and I could get it to move wherever I wanted,” Arbaugh explained. “Just stare somewhere in the screen and it would move where I wanted it to, which was such a wild experience.”

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While Arbaugh acknowledged that Neuralink’s brain implant technology is not perfect and has room for improvement, he told viewers that the brain chip has “already changed my life. The quadriplegic added that the initial implant surgery “was super easy.”

“I literally was released from the hospital a day later. I have no cognitive impairments,” he said. “I just want to thank Neuralink for doing this, for working hard every day to make this a reality. I think that they are going to change the world.”

In response to Wednesday’s livestream, Musk released a statement on X, formerly Twitter, foreshadowing the company’s future plans. He said, “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.”