First Neuralink Patient Says Implant Has Given Him Incredible Gaming Skills

Earlier this year, Noland Arbaugh became the first patient to receive a brain-computer chip implanted by Elon Musk's startup Neuralink.

The 29-year-old lost control over his limbs after a diving accident eight years ago, but has since gained the ability to move a cursor with his mind alone thanks to the coin battery-sized device implanted in his skull and brain.

The tech isn't without its perils, but it also has the potential to profoundly impact the lives of people like Arbaugh, giving them novel ways to live enriched and independent lives.

At the same, according to his latest media appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience — where else, given that Musk is a frequent flyer on the show? — the upgrade is giving Arbaugh sick new gaming skills.

"I basically have an aimbot in my head," he told the controversial podcaster, referring to bots that automatically lock onto their opponents in video games, giving cheating players seemingly superhuman reflexes. "They’ll probably have different leagues for people like me because it’s just not fair."

"Wow, is it that accurate?" Rogan replied.

"It’s that accurate and it’s faster," Arbaugh dished. "Sometimes, it's so good that it’s moving before I even, like, think it to move. If you think about moving your hand, the signal is basically already being sent before you move your hand."

While games like Call of Duty are still "too far out of reach for the Neuralink at this point," according to Arbaugh, he has successfully played plenty of other games, including Civilization VI and Mario Kart.

"In the next few years, I think I’ll be able to play anything anyone else plays," Arbaugh told Rogan, adding that he hopes to play Halo someday.

Despite the plentiful gaming applications, his experience with the brain-computer interface hasn't been entirely smooth sailing.

Earlier this year, he "started losing control of the cursor," as he told Bloomberg at the time. Neuralink found that some of the threads inserted into his motor cortex had started to retract over time, possibly due to air trapped in his skull following the surgery.

As a result, the company is now hoping to dig the wires, each of which is thinner than a human hair, deeper into the second subject's brain, as the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Apart from playing video games with almost superhuman reflexes, Arbaugh also reflected on the downsides of having hardware installed in his brain during his chat with Rogan.

"I mean people ask me all the time if this thing can be hacked, and the short answer is yes," he said. "But at this point, at least hacking this wouldn't really do much... You might be able to control my cursor on my screen and make me look at weird stuff."

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