Watch Neuralink’s First Patient Play Chess Online with His Brain Chip

Noland Arbaugh playing online chess with Neuralink brain implant

Elon Musk’s company reached a significant breakthrough and Neuralink is finally catching up with other companies in this exciting field.

The first human Neuralink patient played online chess using only their mind, a significant breakthrough for the company founded in 2016.

The company livestreamed the event on X, and around 15 million people watched as Neuralink’s patient Noland Arbaugh used his brain implant. The screencaps above are from this video.

We’ve been seeing incredible reports about implanted electrodes into brains for decades now, the so-called brain-computer interfaces, and it’s clear Neuralink is catching up.

“It’s nothing novel, but implantable technology takes a long time to mature, and reach a stage where companies have all the pieces of the puzzle, and can really start to put them together,” Anne Vanhoestenberghe, professor of active implantable medical devices, at King’s College London, said about Neuralink last month.

Neuralink’s patient, Noland Arbaugh, was paralyzed below the neck in a diving accident. On Wednesday, he was live streamed playing online chess, and was ecstatic about the next possibilities.

From a Reuters report:

“Arbaugh had received an implant from the company in January and could control a computer mouse using his thoughts, Musk said last month.

“The surgery was super easy,” Arbaugh said in the video streamed on Musk’s social media platform X, referring to the implant procedure. “I literally was released from the hospital a day later. I have no cognitive impairments.”

“I had basically given up playing that game,” Arbaugh said, referring to the game Civilization VI, “you all (Neuralink) gave me the ability to do that again and played for 8 hours straight.”

As for what else is happening in this exciting medical field, in December 2021 a patient called Phillip O’Keefe controlled a cursor with just his thoughts and managed to compose a tweet. 

In 2023, an ALS patient broke a communications record, achieving 62 words per minute with their brain implant.

Neuralink’s biggest competitor, Synchron, implanted ‘brain chips’ into 10 patients already. While Neuralink’s name is intrinsically linked to Elon Musk, Synchron has the backing of both Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. 

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