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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Elon Musk’s Neuralink achieves breakthrough with first human implant

Tech billionaire Elon Musk's company, Neuralink, has successfully implanted a brain chip in a human for the first time.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, has successfully implanted a brain chip in a human for the first time. Nolan Arbaugh, a 29-year-old paralyzed from the shoulders down due to a spinal cord injury, became the first person to receive this innovative implant in January 2024. This milestone marks a significant step towards bridging the gap between the human brain and computers.

Regaining Control Through Neuralink

Arbaugh’s life changed dramatically after dislocating his C4 and C5 vertebrae during a swimming accident, leaving him with limited movement and no sensation from the shoulders down. However, with the help of Neuralink’s brain chip, Arbaugh has regained control over digital devices using his thoughts. This has enabled him to perform activities such as playing online chess, showcasing the transformative potential of Neuralink’s technology.

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Promise and Challenges of Neuralink

Neuralink’s brain chip, known as the Link, records neural signals through 1,024 electrodes across 64 ultra-thin threads implanted in the brain. Despite initial challenges with the implant’s threads retracting due to brain pulsations, ongoing software adjustments have significantly improved system performance. Arbaugh highlighted that these challenges are part of the learning process, and he remains optimistic about the technology’s future capabilities.

Security Concerns and Potential Misuse

While the benefits of Neuralink’s technology are evident, concerns about its susceptibility to hacking have been raised. In a podcast with Joe Rogan, Arbaugh acknowledged the potential for misuse, stating, “At this point, hacking the brain chip wouldn’t really do much. You might be able to see some of the brain signals and the data that Neuralink is collecting, and then you might be able to control my cursor on my screen and make me look at weird stuff. But that’s about it.”

He further explained that for someone to hack the chip, he would need to be connected to a computer, adding a layer of security. Despite these risks, Arbaugh emphasized the transformative potential of Neuralink over the hypothetical dangers of hacking, focusing on the positive impact the technology can have on individuals with disabilities.

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Musk’s vision for Neuralink extends beyond assisting individuals with physical disabilities. The ultimate goal is to create a seamless interface between the human brain and computers, unlocking new possibilities for human cognition and interaction with digital environments. As Neuralink continues to refine its technology and overcome early challenges, the potential applications of brain-computer interfaces could revolutionize various aspects of life and technology.