Neuralink: Macaque plays videos games with its mind

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Multi-billionaire, Elon Musk, said the technology could be used to improve the lives of people with paralysis and improve human intelligence. Two very small computer chips, developed by Mr Musk’s AI company, Neuralink, were implanted on each side of the monkey’s brain and allowed the nine-year-old macaque named Pager, to play a game of digital ping-pong.

A video released by Neuralink, showed the monkey first playing the game with a joystick while its brain waves were being monitored. Scientists then identified which brain patterns were associated with upwards and downwards movement and connected Pager to the game, allowing him to carry on playing the game using only his mind.

“To control his paddle on the right side of the screen, Pager simply thinks about moving his hand up or down,” Neuralink’s video states.

“As you can see, Pager is amazingly good at mind Pong. He’s focused and he’s playing entirely of his own volition.

“It’s not magic, the reason Neuralink works is because it’s recording and decoding electrical signals from the brain.”

The chips inserted into the monkey’s brain are only four by four millimeters and are connected to a thousand minute “threads”, thinner than a human hair.

The threads detect electrical signals from neurons which in turn are translated into movement or behaviour.

Mr Musk first unveiled the technology back in January during a conversation on Clubhouse.

He said: “We have a monkey with a wireless implant in their skull with tiny wires who can play video games with his mind.

“You can’t see where the implant is and he’s a happy monkey.

“We have the nicest monkey facilities in the world.”

In the real world, the technology has multiple uses and potential benefits, such as allowing paralysed patients to control smartphones or other pieces of technology.

Mr Musk has previously stated that the technology can also be used to improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease.

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In a tweet, he said the Neuralink product could “enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs.”

He also mentioned a potential “symbiosis with AI”.

“Even in a benign AI scenario we will be left behind. With a high bandwidth brain-machine interface we will go along with the ride, we will have the option of merging with AI,” said Mr Musk.

Neuralink’s head neurosurgeon, Matthew MacDougall said he wants to lower the cost of brain implant surgeries to make it similar to the cost of laser eye surgery, which would make the technology more accessible to those who need it.

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