Neuralink Plans New Implant Next Week Amid First's Flaws

Neuralink to implant second brain-computer interface next week, despite only 15% functionality in first patient.

By Alex P. Chase

7/10, 16:33 EDT
Oracle Corporation
UiPath, Inc.

Key Takeaway

  • Neuralink plans a second human brain implant next week, despite hardware issues with the first patient’s BCI system.
  • xAI ends its deal with Oracle to build its own AI data center, causing Oracle stock to drop 3%.
  • UiPath announces 10% workforce cuts amid operational efficiency efforts and recent business slowdown, leading to a 7% stock decline.

Neuralink's Second Human Implant

Elon Musk announced on Wednesday that Neuralink, his brain tech startup, aims to implant its brain-computer interface (BCI) system in a second human patient within the next week. This follows the company's first human implant in January, which involved 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Neuralink's BCI, named Telepathy, uses 64 "threads" thinner than a human hair, inserted directly into the brain to record neural signals through 1,024 electrodes.

The company is working to address hardware issues encountered with its first participant. Some threads from Arbaugh's implant retracted from his brain, though this has not posed a direct risk to his safety. Currently, only about 15% of the channels in Arbaugh's implant are functional, but he still uses the BCI to watch videos, read, and play chess and other video games for up to 70 hours per week. Neuralink's President DJ Seo mentioned that the company plans to mitigate retraction by sculpting the surface of the skull to minimize gaps under the implant and inserting some threads deeper into the brain tissue.

xAI and Oracle Deal Ends

Elon Musk's artificial intelligence startup, xAI, has decided to build its own AI data center rather than relying on Oracle. Musk confirmed this decision in a post on X, citing the need for speed and control: "When our fate depends on being the fastest by far, we must have our own hands on the steering wheel." Talks between Oracle and xAI stalled over Musk's demand for a faster build and Oracle's concerns about power availability at the proposed location.

Oracle executive chair Larry Ellison, a friend of Musk who invested $1 billion in Musk's buyout of Twitter, had previously highlighted xAI as a significant user of Oracle Cloud services. Oracle stock, which had risen 17% since the company's upbeat investor call a month ago, closed down 3% on Tuesday following the news. Despite this setback, Oracle continues to have other AI-related cloud and data center deals, including one with Microsoft to handle its OpenAI workload. Musk acknowledged Oracle's capabilities, stating, "Oracle is a great company."

UiPath Announces Job Cuts

UiPath, a company specializing in software to automate repetitive tasks, announced on Tuesday that it would cut about 10% of its 4,200-strong workforce. The company cited "driving operational efficiency" as the reason for the layoffs. However, this move follows a business slowdown disclosed six weeks ago, which took analysts by surprise given UiPath's decent results for the January quarter. The slowdown worsened in late March, leading to the resignation of CEO Rob Enslin just four months into the job. Founder and former CEO Daniel Dines has since resumed leadership.

UiPath's stock fell 34% following the announcement of the slowdown and Enslin's resignation. Although the stock had begun to recover, news of the layoffs caused it to fall another 7%.

Management Quotes

  • Elon Musk, CEO of Neuralink:

    "The company is hoping to implant its device in the 'high single digits' of patients this year."

  • DJ Seo, President of Neuralink:

    "One way it plans to do so is by sculpting the surface of the skull to minimize the gap under the implant."

  • Dr. Matthew MacDougall, Head of Neurosurgery at Neuralink:

    "Now that we know retraction is a possibility, we’re going to insert at a variety of depths."