What’s going on here?
Elon Musk’s neuroscience startup Neuralink released a video showing a primate playing Pong with only the power of the mind.
The roughly 3-and-a-half-minute video showed Pager, a 9-year-old monkey implanted two wireless recording and transmitting nerve data into the brain about six weeks before the clip was shot. Pager sipped a banana smoothie through a metal straw while using a joystick to control Pong paddles on the screen – but it turns out, that joystick isn’t plugged in yet. The lab stated in a blog post that Pager is actually moving the paddle using his brain activity through the Neuralink implant.
See him here:
So how was this set up? Pager has been trained to play video games with the joystick and is rewarded with a banana smoothie. And at first, Neuralink’s wireless N1 Link devices recorded which nerve cells were active while the Pager operated the joystick. Neuralink created a mathematical model of the relationship between Pager’s neural activity model and the different joystick movements this brain activity produces. Then, after Links learned to predict Pager hand movements, the joystick was disconnected from the game. And while Pager is continuing to move the joystick out of habit, the Link devices in his brain are actually moving the pointer across the screen.
Thus, a monkey plays video games with his mind – or as one commentator cracked, “Next Video: Donkey Kong plays Donkey Kong”, referring to Nintendo’s iconic game there was a great ape throwing the barrel.
From the archive: Elon Musk’s Neuralink shows off a computer-brain interface
The lab hopes to continue to develop its brain implants so that one day the device can help paralyzed people run computers and mobile devices with their brain activity. Musk, CEO of Tesla
shared that mission statement on Twitter
on Thursday night, tweeted that the Neuralink device could one day help paralyzed people use smartphones faster than non-disabled people using their thumbs.
This builds on previous “mind control” development, such as an inner quadriceps muscle. Science magazine 2015 You can drink beer using a robotic arm controlled by your mind. And in 2006, a paralyzed man named Matthew Nagle moved the pointer over the computer, and also controls a TV and a robot with his own thoughts through a tiny sensor implanted into his brain.
In February, Musk said Human trials at Neuralink could begin as early as this year.