It might sound straight out of Planet of the Apes, but Elon Musk’s Neuralink Project allowed a monkey to play video games using his mind to power the controls.
In February, Musk claimed that Project Neuralink had succeeded in allowing a monkey to play games using his brain power. It sounded a bit crazy, but now video footage of the experiment has been posted to Neuralink’s YouTube channel and features a 9-year-old macaque named Pager playing games via Neuralink’s technology that has been implanted on either side. of his brain.
First, Pager manages a game via a joystick where its objective is to move a cursor over the highlighted square on a grid. He is rewarded with a sip of banana smoothie whenever he correctly moves the slider. Next, and most fascinatingly, Pager plays a game of Pong using nothing but his mind.
So how does it work, exactly? It turns out that Neuralink is able to track Pager’s brain activity by analyzing data from his neurons, the nerve cells responsible for sending motor signals to muscles. By following the data from the joystick-based cursor play, the pager is then able to move the Pong paddle just thinking of How? ‘Or’ What he would move the joystick if there was one.
As the speed of the Pong game increased, Pager showed no signs of panic and proved to be an extremely skilled player even without a traditional controller. It might only be a matter of time before you start seeing monkeys in major esports tournaments, then? A chimpanzee who uses Hadoukens using only his mind looks like something straight out of a half-baked sci-fi movie, but surprisingly, the Neuralink test showed it could be a reality with his successful results with Pager.
We have to deal with the elephant in the room though, as it is the often cruel treatment of animals in product testing facilities. However, Musk insisted that Pager was “not uncomfortable” during the test. He also pointed out in an interview with the Clubhouse that a representative from the US Department of Agriculture responded positively to Neuralink’s testing facilities.
Neuralink claims that the technology used here with Pager will eventually be intended for human use. In a blog post (link), the company said, “We intend to use the link to help improve the lives of people with neurological conditions and disabilities in other ways. For example, for paralyzed people, the Link could also be used to restore physical mobility. “