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Elon Musk’s Neuralink Faces Reality Check as Brain Chip Malfunctions

Daniel Kim Views  

Reports have emerged that the first patient to receive Elon Musk’s brain chip showed unusual reactions after just a few weeks.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on the 9th, Neuralink, the brain implant startup founded by Musk, revealed on its blog that there were issues with the chip device of its first human clinical subject, Nolan Arbo, who was paralyzed due to a diving incident.

The issue with the chip resulted in a decrease in the amount of data that could be collected from Arbo’s brain. When WSJ inquired, Neuralink stated, “Some of the threads of the chip implanted in Arbo’s brain have dislocated from its original positions, which might have resulted in some data loss.”Arbo had the Neuralink chip implanted in his brain in January of this year. In March, a video was released representing him moving a computer screen cursor using the chip. In the video, Arbo stated that the brain surgery was straightforward, and he could left out of the facility less than a day after the operation. However, he expected a longer recovery time.

However, the issue with the chip came to light when WSJ obtained related information from a source and inquired about Neuralink. Neuralink acknowledged the problem on their website and explained the possible reason for the thread dislodgement, “Air might have entered the skull during the surgery. However, it does not seem to pose a risk to the patient’s safety.” Pneumocephalus refers to the presence of air within the skull, which provokes symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and sensory abnormalities.

According to WSJ‘s source, “Due to the issues that arose during this first experiment, there was a discussion within Neuralink about removing the implanted chip from the patient’s brain, a procedure known as extraction.”Neuralink currently maintains that the issue has been resolved. The company explained, “Several threads fell out of the brain in the weeks following the implantation surgery, reducing the number of connected effective electrodes and decreasing the bits per second (BPS) of data. In response to these changes, we modified our recording algorithm to be more sensitive to neural signals, improved the technology that converts these signals into cursor movements, and enhanced the user interface.”

According to WSJ, Neuralink officials are optimistic that this issue has been resolved and have conveyed this opinion to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Neuralink also added that they are considering plans to embed the brain chip in two more patients within the next few months. Neuralink has previously announced its goal to insert brain chips in 10 people this year.

The current brain-computer interface (BCI) device N1 presented by Neuralink is housed in a round container the size of a quarter, similar to a hockey puck. It includes a chip, battery, and communication device. Attached are 64 threads, each 16 electrodes is thinner than a human hair. The ends of these hair-thin threads are placed in the brain’s motor cortex, connecting the BCI with the brain.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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