Elon Musk’s “Neuralink” has a video displaying a monkey playing ‘Pong” with its mind.
Neuralink is a Musk-based company dedicated to the development of artificial intelligence microchips that can work with the human brain. The company released a video showing a macaque using the technology to play video games, “Pong”.
Musk has exaggerated the ability to test Neuralink on primates, but the company demonstrated it for the first time. In a speech in 2019, Musk said that the company had allowed a monkey to control a computer with its brain.
In August 2020, the company conducted a live demonstration of the technology on a pig named Gertrude.
Neuralink reported that six weeks ago, a chip was implanted in the brain of a monkey called a pager. In the video, he was provided with a joystick connected to the video game by moving the cursor over the colored square.
When Pager uses the joystick, the Neuralink chip records his brain activity and sends it back to the computer to analyze what the brain sees when he does it. The joystick is disconnected from the machine, but the monkey continues to use brain signals to control the game transmitted via Neuralink chip.
In theory, the same technology could be used to enable people to control synthetic limbs with Neuralink brain implants. Musk said in a tweet on Thursday that the first Neuralink product will enable paralyzed people to control smartphones.
Newcastle University neuroscience expert, Andrew Jackson states that allowing primates to control video games through neural interfaces (a similar demonstration was conducted in 2002) is nothing new, but it is a strong evidence of technology.
He said: “When you invent a new telescope, it makes sense to aim at what you know you are going to see.Therefore, you will follow a very sensitive path to test the equipment. I am confident that the device will contribute to new scientific discoveries in the future (especially if it is made available widely to scientists) and will improve the usability of interface technology for people with nerve cell paralysis.”
Jackson added that the development of a wireless device to implant the skull of Pager is a major achievement.
Jackson said: “What is absolutely new and innovative is that there are no wires passing through the skin, and all brain signals are transmitted wirelessly.” “For me, this is a real breakthrough, and it will improve the safety of human applications using cables passing through the skin are a potential route of infection and the well-being of animals in neurobiological research are important. The Neuralink team has indeed made progress in this area.”
Riley Greene, a bioengineering researcher at Imperial College London, also praised the apparent health of Pager. He said: “The best thing I have seen in this video is that the macaque moves around freely. “There is no visible packaging attached. I want to say that this is definitely a step forward, not super innovation. It’s a positive step forward.”