Neuralink, A Biotech Firm, Releases Results Of First Brain Transplant In A Live Stream

Neuralink has unveiled the first human subject to receive its groundbreaking brain implant. The recipient, Noland Arbaugh, aged 29, has been paralyzed from the shoulders down for eight years following a diving accident.

During a live stream on the social media platform X, Arbaugh demonstrated the capabilities of the Neuralink device by showcasing his ability to play online chess and the video game Civilization using only his thoughts.

“If y’all can see the cursor moving around the screen, that’s all me,” he exclaimed during the live demonstration, moving a digital chess piece with precision.

Founded in 2016 by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, Neuralink is developing brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) aimed at decoding movement intention from brain signals. The primary objective of the company’s technology is to empower paralyzed individuals to control digital interfaces using their minds alone.

Arbaugh provided insights into his experience learning to use the brain-computer interface. “I would attempt to move, say, my right hand left, right, forward, back, and from there I think it just became intuitive for me to start imagining the cursor moving,” he explained during the livestream.

Neuralink received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year to proceed with an initial human trial and commenced recruiting paralyzed participants in the fall for device testing.

Although the livestream offered limited details, a Neuralink engineer assured viewers that more information would be forthcoming in the following days. Arbaugh expressed gratitude for his involvement in the Neuralink study, emphasizing, “I just can’t even describe how cool it is to be able to do this.”

“Wildly illegal”

Critics have raised concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding Neuralink’s trial. The company has provided minimal information about the study’s progress, relying primarily on social media updates and a brief brochure released last year.

“I’m far from an expert in FDA compliance but I feel pretty confident in saying that releasing PR on your company’s medical device, currently in very early clinical trials, where the CEO says ‘(our device) is like using The force!!’… is wildly illegal,” wrote Eric Roesch, more commonly known as ESG Hound, on Threads.

The firm is facing increased scrutiny following disturbing reports about its treatment of monkeys. Allegations of brain injuries and prolonged deaths have sparked concerns among readers and prompted calls for an investigation by lawmakers.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has recently urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Musk for potential securities fraud following his statements regarding monkey deaths at Neuralink. The billionaire claimed that the animals “had a terminal case of cancer or something like that” before undergoing surgeries, including the implantation of devices into their skulls.

The national physicians group argues that Musk’s remarks misled investors about Neuralink’s product safety. Contrary to Musk’s claims, Neuralink stated in February 2022 that six monkeys were euthanized due to various factors, including device-associated infections and complications from surgeries.

Musk seems to have also suggested on his platform X that the device might possess the ability to reinstate vision. He stated, “Blindsight is the next product after Telepathy,” alluding to the name of the implant designed for paralyzed individuals.

Despite the controversy, Arbaugh sought to allay safety concerns, asserting, “I think, like, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” He described the surgery as “super easy” and emphasized his lack of cognitive impairments post-procedure.

“Not cutting edge”

Even with the safety and regulatory concerns, many observers highlighted that the science on which Neuralink operates isn’t even new.

“Neuralink is not cutting edge. BCI point-click tech has been achieved since 2002,” X user @AlphaDiviner wrote. They referenced to Twitch streamer Perrikaryal who plays games using only her mind, aided by an electroencephalogram (EEG). With an EEG translating her brain activity into digital commands, Perrikaryal embarked on a journey to merge gaming with mental control.

Trained in psychology, Perrikaryal initially focused her streams on psychological topics before delving into mind-controlled gaming. By harnessing her EEG’s brain-computer interface, she transformed mental visualizations into game commands. Over time, she mastered techniques to play games like Minecraft and Elden Ring solely through mental commands.

Neuralink also faces competition from other companies also working on brain-computer interfaces. One such competitor, Synchron, has developed a stent-like device inserted into the jugular vein to lay against the brain, enabling paralyzed individuals to perform tasks like web browsing and online shopping.

However, as Arbaugh winded up his demonstration, he acknowledged challenges encountered while using the device but remained optimistic about its potential. “I don’t want people to think that this is the end of the journey. There’s a lot of work to be done,” he remarked. “But it has already changed my life.”

Information for this briefing was found via Wired, Freethink, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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