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In January, multi-hyphenate billionaire Elon Musk announced that his brain-computer interface startup Neuralink had successfully implanted a wireless brain chip into a human subject for the first time.

Over the next couple of months, 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh was shown moving a cursor with his mind, playing Civilization VI and even a fast-paced round of Mario Kart.

But as the Wall Street Journal reports, there have been complications behind the scenes. After it reached out to Neuralink, the company conceded in a blog post that there have been issues with the implant.

Concerns started when the rate at which data was being streamed from Arbaugh's implant declined over time, indicating something was off with the quarter-sized device.

The N1 chip that was robotically implanted in Arbaugh's skull is made up of a microprocessor, a battery, a communications chip, and 64 threads that are thinner than a human hair. The ends of these threads were inserted into the brain's motor cortex, allowing it to relay Arbaugh's intentions wirelessly.

Some of these threads, though, have since retracted. One prominent theory is that air that was trapped in his skull following the surgery may have shifted these threads out of place.

"In the weeks following the surgery, a number of threads retracted from the brain, resulting in a net decrease in the number of effective electrodes," the startup wrote in the blog post. "This led to a reduction in bits-per-second (BPS)."

The company claims even with a reduced number of electrodes, it was able to actually increase the BPS, in the long run, thanks to adjustments made to the "recording algorithm" and improvements to "the techniques to translate these signals into cursor movements."

"These refinements produced a rapid and sustained improvement in BPS," the post reads, "that has now superseded Noland’s initial performance."

According to the WSJ's sources inside Neuralink, the team expected challenges. The company has also reportedly informed the Food and Drug Administration of potential fixes for the next surgery involving a human subject.

If all goes according to plan, Neuralink wants to implant two more patients within the next months, and ten people total this year.

To be clear, Neuralink isn't exactly breaking new ground here. Devices that scan the brain's electrical signals and translate them into cursor movement have been around for several decades.

But by streamlining the implantation process and allowing the data to be transmitted wirelessly, the startup still stands the chance of bringing the tech to a much wider number of people, who have lost control over their limbs.

We should also take the company's data with a big grain of salt and reserve judgment until we've seen the numbers evaluated by independent experts.

As for Arbaugh, he's as optimistic as ever.

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

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