Paralyzed Neuralink Patient Playing “Civilization VI” With His Mind

Image by Neuralink via X / Futurism

Neuralink has released footage of the first human recipient of its brain implant controlling a computer cursor with his mind.

In the debut, shown during a livestream on X, the recipient identifies himself as 29-year-old Nolan Arbaugh, a quadriplegic who says he was left fully paralyzed below the shoulders after a diving accident eight years ago.

Arbaugh shows that he’s able to play chess on a laptop by using the Neuralink implant, and just as easily pauses music coming out of a speaker — all without lifting a finger, an experience he likens to “using the Force.”

“It’s all being done with my brain,” he said. “If y’all can see the cursor moving around the screen, that’s all me.”

Outside of that, Arbaugh admits, he uses the implant to play long — in some cases eight hour — sessions of the video game “Civilization VI.”

“I had basically given up on playing that game,” he said. “Y’all gave me the ability to do that again.”

The livestream is the first time the public has been introduced to Neuralink’s human patient, and some of the only major evidence shared of the company’s progress so far. It comes a month after co-founder Elon Musk had claimed that the patient could control a cursor using their mind.

Until now, many experts have criticized the company’s lack of transparency. Fears over the patient’s safety were also raised because of multiple reports that detailed how some of Neuralink’s monkeys allegedly suffered horrific deaths after receiving prototypes of the company’s brain implants. Its robotic surgeon designed to carry out the implant procedure had also never been demonstrated on a living recipient.

From Arbaugh’s account, those fears didn’t seem to amount to much.

“The surgery was super easy,” he said in the livestream. “I literally was released from the hospital a day later. I have no cognitive impairments.”

The demonstration is undoubtedly impressive. It’s worth noting, however, that humans using brain implants to control a computer cursor isn’t a new development, although Neuralink is spearheading the charge to commercialize the technology.

At the end of the day, though, the brain implant has had a life-changing impact on Arbaugh in the few months he’s had it. Let’s hope, for his sake, that it continues to empower him in the long run.

“I’m so freaking lucky to be part of this,” Arbaugh said. “Everyday it seems like we’re learning new stuff.”

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