So It Begins: First Person With Brain Chip Implant Can Play Video Games With His Mind

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In a story that would have been unthinkable not all that many years ago, the first human to have a Neuralink computer chip surgically implanted in his brain has demonstrated how he now uses his thoughts to move a computer cursor around a screen to play online chess and toggle a music stream on and off.

The stuff of science fiction? Not anymore.

Noland Arbaugh, a 29-year-old man who was paralyzed from the shoulders down due to a diving accident eight years ago, joined a live stream on X (formerly Twitter) with a Neuralink engineer to demonstrate to the public how the brain-computer technology works.

Arbaugh described the technology as “pretty cool.”

It’s all being done with my brain. If y’all can see the cursor moving around the screen, that’s all me, y’all. It’s pretty cool, huh?

Is it?

I’ve never been an apocalyptic conspiracy nut, and I’m not about to start now, but here’s the thing. 

First, video games, then what? Where could this bionic technology ultimately lead? Could future human cyborgs be controlled via the chips in their brains? Could future populations be forced or programmed to do virtually anything? What about the moral or ethical rubicons that could be crossed? 

These are now legitimate questions for which we are yet to have answers. 

And if history has taught us anything, two of those lessons are relevant here. First, the law of unintended consequences. How many times throughout history have we seen programs and initiatives that were well-intended end up turning out badly? Second, when governments have more control than the people they govern, history has shown us that things don’t often turn out well for the governed. 

Again, I’m far from a conspiracy loon, but as the bumper sticker says, “‘Stuff’ Happens.”

The Neuralink chip contains 1,000 electrodes programmed to gather data about the brain’s neural activity and body movement intention and sends the data to a Neuralink computer for decoding to transform thoughts into actions.

Arbaugh described how it works for him.

Basically, it was like using the Force (a “Star Wars” reference) on the cursor and I could get it to move wherever I wanted. Just stare somewhere on the screen and it would move where I wanted it to, which was such a wild experience the first time it happened.

No doubt. But, back to the non-conspiracy conspiracy thoughts…

What if the computer was programmed to ignore data based on actual neural activity and instead transform different “thoughts” into actions? Crazy? Given the real craziness of today’s world, oh hell no.

Arbaugh was the first human implanted with the chip by Neurolink, an Elon Musk-owned company. The chip was implanted in his brain by a robot surgeon. Again, not all that long ago, the stuff of science fiction movies.

He said the surgery was “super easy,” and he was released from the hospital a day later and has had no cognitive impairments since.

It’s crazy, it really is. It’s so cool. I’m so friggin’ lucky to be a part of this. Every day it seems like we’re learning new stuff and I just can’t describe how cool it is to be able to do this.

Without elaborating, Arbaugh acknowledged that the implant has led to some challenges. 

It’s not perfect. I would say that we have run into some issues. I don’t want people to think that this is the end of the journey. There’s a lot of work to be done. But it has already changed my life.

Not only does Arbaugh deserve kudos for agreeing to become the first person embedded with the chip, but he also deserves well wishes for a better future.

The Bottom Line

Still, the whole bionic, cyborg thing gives me cause for pause. Legitimately so?

Again, if history has taught us anything, hell yes it is.


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