Just two months ago, Elon Musk’s brain tech company, Neuralink, revealed plans to start testing its brain-machine interface devices on monkeys after moving on from pigs.
Well, now we have a video of a macaque monkey playing Pong with its mind.
A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2021
“A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip,” Musk wrote on Twitter.
The nine-year-old Monkey named ‘Pager’ had N1 links placed in each side of its brain six weeks before the three-and-a-half-minute video’s recording.
Pager learned to interact with the computer for the reward of a banana smoothie, as any true Twitch streamer would.
The first half of the video shows Pager using a joystick to move the cursor to a coloured tile, while sucking a banana smoothie through a straw-like contraption. Though the monkey is living the dream of playing video games while being fed, the N1 links transmit neuron activity data responsible for its hand movements over Bluetooth to a computer running custom decoding software.
This software then predicts Pager’s intended hand movements in real-time.
Once enough data had been collected and the decoder was calibrated, the joystick was disconnected from the computer. Pager continued to move the joystick around out of habit, but the cursor moved around entirely through its decoded neural activity. Later in the video, Pager plays a game of MindPong with the joystick removed, simply by thinking about moving its hand up or down.
Musk and Neuralink hope to develop these brain chips further to allow paralyzed people to use computers or smartphones simply through their brain activity. Pager isn’t the only animal that Neuralink has experimented with; last year, the company showed off a brain-machine interface device using pigs.
In other Elon Musk related news, his business partner and co-founder of Neuralink, Max Hodak, recently tweeted that he could build a real-world Jurassic Park.