Neuralink video shows human brain-computer interface user playing game of chess

Last month, Elon Musk said that one of the first human users of Neuralink’s brain-computer interface technology was able to move a mouse cursor using only their thoughts. Now, his company has posted video of a quadriplegic patient using the device to play a game of chess.

In a nine-minute livestream on X, formerly Twitter, 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh said that a diving accident had dislocated the vertebrae in his neck, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down for years. After receiving the Neuralink implant in January, Arbaugh said he could now easily move the chess pieces around his laptop screen, while also using the digital connection to control its music player.

“It just became intuitive for me to start imagining the cursor moving—basically it was like using The Force on the cursor,” he said. “I could… just stare somewhere on the screen and it would move where I wanted it to, which was such a wild experience.” 

Arbaugh also said he was able to use the implant to play the computer game Civilization VI for hours at a time (with breaks to recharge the implant). He added that the device isn’t perfect yet, having “run into some issues,” and that there’s more work to be done in its ongoing development. 

After rejecting a previous request, the FDA gave Neuralink the green light to begin human clinical trials last year, in the midst of a federal probe into animal testing issues, and reports that about 1,500 animals had died in Neuralink’s care during the early stages of the implant’s development. Previously described by Musk as a potential “Fitbit in your skull,” the device includes a chip that replaces a small piece of bone and is connected to the brain via a series of thin, threaded electrodes.

In the months following the regulatory go-ahead to begin recruiting human study participants, Neuralink announced it raised $280 million in venture capital funding. That series D round was led by Founders Fund, the firm co-founded by Peter Thiel, who worked alongside Musk at PayPal. Founders Fund previously joined Neuralink’s $205 million series C in 2021 and has also backed Musk’s rocket-building company SpaceX.