April 11, 2024 at 9:37 am

Doctors Raise Concerns About The Health Of Neuralink’s First Patient

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

I can’t imagine it comes as a surprise that the first person to let Elon Musk implant a computer chip into their brain might be having issues.

Honestly, I’m still finding it hard to imagine that anyone volunteered to have something implanted in their brain to begin with.

Elon Musk, the founder of Neuralink, is coming out with only good news about Noland Arbaugh, the first human to receive a brain implant. He was recently shown playing chess online and even playing Mario Kart with his friends.

Both of those seem pretty impressive to most people, but not necessarily to others who have been in this field for a while.

More on that later.

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The medical field has concerns – and rightfully so – about the lack of information surrounding their policy, practices, and details about the chip. They say there’s no way to know whether the procedure is safe, or to assess for themselves that the patient is healthy and thriving.

“Neuralink is only sharing the bits that they want us to know about. There’s a lot of concern in the community about that.”

And since we know that the company’s monkey patients did not all fare particularly well after receiving implants of their own, there is probably good reason for their concern.

Many of the monkeys had to be euthanized, and suffered painful injuries as a result of the link before that happened.

Sameer Sheth, a neurosurgeon was specializes in implanted technology, says other concerns revolve around the company’s robotic surgeon. We’ve only seen footage of it working on a dummy, and if some of the reported monkey injuries are accurate, the “surgeon” doesn’t seem to be operating up to snuff.

Bolu Ajiboye, a brain-computer interface researcher, says safety concerns aside, what they’re claiming isn’t groundbreaking stuff.

“A human controlling a cursor is nothing new. The first human to control a cursor with a brain implant was in 2004, and tests have demonstrated this in monkeys for even longer.”

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Other brain implant research projects are achieving more impressive results, and letting other scientists review the technology, too. Some have allowed fully paralyzed patients to communicate through a digital avatar and their minds, and others have been able to control robotic prosthetics.

Still, not everyone thinks Neuralink should get out of their lane.

Ajiboye, for one, thinks their involvement can still be a positive thing.

“The more companies involved in human BCIs, the better to push the field forward.”

I think it’s possible that’s true.

But only if no human test subjects are harmed in the process.

For now, it seems like Noland is in good spirits and is progressing nicely, so hopefully that will continue far into the future.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.