May 24, 2024
  • After a successful implant in January, the first-ever human brain chip implant by Neuralink ran into a little problem last week.
  • Some of the thin threads that are responsible for neural connection and data transfer detached from the recipient’s brain, disrupting the process.
  • However, the issue has now been fixed through a series of software updates. The company also assured that the recipient was doing fine and did not face any danger while the chip malfunctioned.

Neuralink’s First In-Human Brain Chip Implant Malfunctions

Just a few months after the first successful implant of Neuralink’s brain chip, the project faced what can now be called a minor hiccup when the chip malfunctioned last week.

The chip consists of 1,024 electrodes across 64 threads that are responsible for the neural data transfer. However, in this case, some of the electrode-studded threads retracted from the recipient’s (Noland Arbaugh) brain tissues, hindering the speed and effectiveness of the process.

The company had initially decided to remove the chip, but on further investigation, it proceeded to solve the malfunction through a series of software updates.

Neuralink addressed the issue in a blog post and said that in light of this event, it has decided to modify the “recording algorithm to be more sensitive to neural population signals, improved the techniques to translate these signals into cursor movements, and enhanced the user interface.”

These modifications have created a more rapid and sustained improvement in BPS (bits-per-second) that has now superseded Noland’s previous performance.

Last but not least, Neuralink also assured the public that the entire mishap had no negative impact on Arbaugh’s safety. You can read more about his experience and the progress of the trial on Neuralink’s official blog.

Brief History about the Recipient

The first-ever Neuralink brainchip recipient, Noland Arbaugh, is a 29-year-old US citizen who experienced a severe spinal injury after a diving accident that led to quadriplegia. Due to this, he was paralyzed from the shoulders down.

In January 2024, he became the first person to receive Neuralink’s brain chip. The surgery was as smooth as the experts had hoped, and he was recovering quite well.

There were even videos of him playing chess online using just his thoughts. Not only that, the chip even allows him to control a mouse with his thoughts.

Arbaugh’s experience has also been a significant contributor to research. The company shared that he was using the chip’s computer system for eight hours a day during the week and 10 hours a day on the weekends. Just recently, he used it for a whopping 69 hours in a single week.

Speaking about his experience, Arbaugh said that it’s a “luxury overload,” and the chip has really helped him connect with the world.

Neuralink’s chips are designed to revolutionize the way people with quadriplegia interact with the world. Elon Musk and his company aim to connect human brains with computers so that they can go about their daily lives like normal human beings.

For instance, they would no longer need help to send a message, make a call, or play a game. In Musk’s own words, the brain chip is a lot like what Stephen Hawking had—just that it’s a lot faster and better.

The product is currently under trial, during which Neuralink is focusing on three things:

  • Efficiency of the chip
  • Safety of the chip
  • Efficiency of surgical robots that would be used for chip implantation

Although the company has gotten approval for human testing, it’s a long way to go before it can get approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a commercial launch, after which it will be available to the public.

Speaking of Neuralink’s future plans, the company has decided to extend Link’s functionality to physical objects in the future. This includes robotic arms, wheelchairs, and much more.

This way, disabled individuals will be able to go through their entire day and move around by simply using their thoughts—they wouldn’t even have to lift a finger!

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