Neuralink Chip Experiences Malfunction After Implantation in Human Brain

In a statement released this Wednesday, May 8th, the American startup Neuralink announced that its brain implant exhibited a decrease in efficiency, four months following its insertion into the first human patient.

Is there hope for improvement? This Wednesday, Neuralink revealed that a component of its chip, implanted in the brain of a patient last January, has shown a performance drop. It’s important to remember that this technology aims to enable patients with quadriplegia or neurological diseases to “unlock their potential” through an advanced technological interface.

In January, 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh became the first human recipient of the implant. Following a diving accident, Arbaugh was left quadriplegic. Eight years later, Neuralink released footage showing him playing chess on his computer using his thoughts alone.

However, in another statement published in April, the American startup reassured the public that “the operation had been executed flawlessly.” Yet, this Wednesday, after four months of use, the company announced a loss in the chip’s effectiveness because “a number of wires had detached from the brain, leading to a significant reduction in the number of functional electrodes.”

To address this malfunction, Neuralink explained that it had modified its algorithm and improved signal transmission techniques. According to the company, removing the implant was considered but ultimately discarded as Noland Arbaugh’s health was not deemed to be at risk.

Daily Usage of the Chip

Neuralink also detailed that its patient uses the chip about eight hours per day during the week and up to ten hours during his free time. “This system has allowed me to reconnect with the world, my friends, and my family,” Noland Arbaugh stated in the press release. “I am now able to do some things by myself, just like before,” he added.

While Neuralink aspires to create “enhanced humans” and support patients with autism or schizophrenia, the project raises numerous ethical questions.

Indeed, Elon Musk aims to offer his implant to everyone, to enhance communication with computers and, according to him, to mitigate the “risk to our civilization” posed by artificial intelligence. However, concerns about becoming cyborgs have been raised by various voices.