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Neuralink’s First Patient Heard About Brain Implant in Drunk-Dial From Friend

Overnight celebrity Noland Arbaugh, the first person to get a Neuralink brain-computer interface (BCI) implanted, learned about the Elon Musk-owned company's human trials in chaotic fashion.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the 29-year-old — who became paralyzed after a diving accident eight years ago — said he only learned about Neuralink six months ago, thanks to a drunk phone call from a friend.

That friend called him up while under the influence to tell him that Neuralink was looking for its first human trial patient. He helped Arbaugh fill out the application, but apparently misspelled his name in the process.

It's an unsurprising anecdote from the Arizona-based young man, who per Neuralink engineer Bliss Chapman, said his favorite game was "Beerio Cart," a clearly alcohol-tinged variant on the party game Mario Kart that Arbaugh was seen playing with his mind in an impressive demo posted last week.

"They're very different games," the 29-year-old games enthusiast quipped.

For all his seeming frat boy antics, Arbaugh does seem — as Neuralink employees bragged during a recorded presentation last week — to be an eager and promising experimental subject for Musk's brain implant venture.

In another video displayed during the nearly hour-long address to Neuralink employees, which Arbaugh posted on his own X-formerly-Twitter account, the young man is seen breaking a timing record when learning to gain control of a cursor with his BCI — and according to Chapman, that was only on hour seven of his very first day using his brain chip.

Ever humble, Arbaugh told the WSJ that the process of becoming Neuralink's first-ever human patient wasn't as intense as one might expect.

"Brain surgery was easy," he told the newspaper. "I was expecting a much longer recovery time, and they kicked me out of the hospital like a day later."

What seems more difficult, however, was weighing the pros and cons of becoming Neuralink's poster boy.

"I definitely took time to step back and evaluate all of the downsides that I could be bringing to my family," Arbaugh said. "Not just the health downsides — things that could have happened during surgery or afterwards — but everything that comes with this, like any notoriety."

After having tried other experimental assistive technologies, Arbaugh clearly decided it was worth the risks.

"I’ve glimpsed what the possibilities are, and now it’s hard to live any other way," he told the WSJ. "So I would say to the next patient, the next candidate, just to enjoy it as much as possible."

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