Elon Musk’s Neuralink Reveals Monkey Playing Video Game with its Mind
Elon Musk’s startup devoted to meshing brains with computers was closer to its dream on Friday, having gotten a monkey to play the video game Pong using only its mind. According to Financial Express, Musk has long contended that merging minds with machines is vital if people are going to avoid being outpaced by artificial intelligence. A video posted on YouTube by the entrepreneur’s Neuralink startup showed a macaque monkey named “Pager” playing Pong by essentially using thought to move paddles that bounce digital balls back and forth on screen.
In a statement, Neuralink, which has mostly kept the developments it works on secretive, said that Pager was able to move a computer cursor simply with neural activity with the help of a 1,024-electrode fully-implanted neural recording and data transmission device.
“To control his paddle, Pager simply thinks about moving his hand up or down,” said a voice narrating the video. “As you can see, Pager is amazingly good at MindPong.”
Pager’s reward was banana smoothly served through a straw when he successfully batted the digital ball from one paddle to the other, according to the demonstration.
After a few minutes, the “decoder” program figured out what neuron signals to look for and the joystick was no longer needed for Pager to play the game.
“A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!!” Musk tweeted triumphantly.
The decoder could be calibrated to enable a person to guide a cursor on a computer screen, potentially letting them type emails, text messages, or browse the internet just by thinking, according to a blog post at neuralink.com.
“Our first goal is to give people with paralysis their digital freedom back,” the Neuralink team said in the post.
Members of the team last year shared a “wish list” that ranged from technology returning mobility to the paralyzed and sight to the blind, to enabling telepathy and the uploading of memories for later reference — or perhaps to be downloaded into replacement bodies.