A Monkey Can Play Pong With Its Mind Thanks To Elon Musk

The future is now! A male macaque named Pager can now play Pong only with its mind thanks to Elon Musk. While it seems totally believable that Musk himself would have taught the monkey how to do this, it was actually thanks to chips embedded on each side of its brain by Neuralink, a neurotechnology company co-founded by Musk in 2016.

In a three minute video spotted by The Guardian, we see Pager playing Pong with purely his mind. This was done by first training Pager to play using a joystick; once he got the hang of things, the joystick was unplugged, allowing the macaque to play the game with its mind thanks to the neurological implants.

According to the video’s narrator, Neuralink records and decodes electrical signals from the brain using more than 2,000 electrodes implanted in the motor cortex region of the monkey’s brain that coordinate hand and arm movements. “Using these data, we calibrate the decoder by mathematically modeling the relationship between patterns of neural activity and the different joystick movements they produce,” said the narrator.

Musk tweeted out yesterday with what seemed to be the objective of Neuralink’s products. “First Neuralink product will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs,” he tweeted.

In subsequent tweets, he illustrated what the company would aim to achieve in the future. “Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again,” said Musk. “The device is implanted flush with skull & charges wirelessly, so you look & feel totally normal.”

The San Francisco based company aims to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and spinal cord injuries by implanting wireless chips into the brains of people who suffer from those conditions. While the technology is still in early stages and hasn’t yet been tested on humans, Neuralink hopes that this fusion of humans with artificial intelligence will be the cure for these issues.

In August 2020, Musk and Neuralink unveiled a pig with a chip implanted in its brain. Musk called the implant “a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires”.

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