Elon Musk’s brain implant company teaches monkeys to play pong with their minds at Science & Tech News


Elon Musk’s brain implant company Neuralink has released a video showing how it taught a monkey – pager, a nine-year-old macaque – to play the video game pong with its mind.

The video follows that of Mr. Musk Claim in February that the company has “a monkey with a wireless implant in its skull with tiny wires” that it plays video games with.

Neuralink Corporation, the Elon Musk owns SpaceX and Tesla, along with its businesses, which were previously claimed to have implanted coin-sized wireless sensors in the brain of two pigsand describes the sensors as “Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires”.

“He’s a happy monkey,” says Elon Musk

At the time of the video, Pager was six weeks after installing the Neuralink devices – one on each side of his brain – and during that time he’d learned to interact with a computer for a “delicious banana smoothie” made by you Straw is delivered.

The implants record signals in the pager’s motor cortex, which normally coordinate hand and arm movements.

“Our goal is to give a person with paralysis the ability to use a computer or phone with just their brain activity,” says the narrator during Pager’s video.

While speaking on the Clubhouse app in February, Elon Musk said before saying that another announcement would be made in the coming months, “You can’t see where the implant is and he’s a happy monkey.”

The billionaire told callers that a US Department of Agriculture inspector called the company’s lab “the most beautiful monkey facility” they’d ever examined.

“We went the extra mile for the monkeys,” said Mr Musk.

“One of the things we want to find out is if we can get the monkeys to play pong together? That would be pretty cool.”

The tiny implant the company developed has more than 3,000 electrodes attached to flexible threads that are about a tenth the size of a hair and can monitor about 1,000 neurons.

The ultimate goal is to create a brain-computer interface that will be tested to treat people with brain and spinal injuries.

Neuralink reveals a pig with a computer chip in its brain. Image: Neuralink
Neuralink reveals a pig with a computer chip in its brain. Image: Neuralink

Neuralink’s chief surgeon, Dr. Matthew MacDougall said the initial studies would focus on patients with paralysis or paraplegia, although he had not given a date for starting these studies.

According to the company, the technology could help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and spinal cord injuries.

Mr Musk said last year that the implantable device “could actually solve these problems” and also mentioned memory loss, hearing loss, depression and insomnia.

Some of the more conceptual ideas touted by Mr. Musk are not yet considered feasible by scientists, including some sort of “safe state” in the brain.

“So if you died, your condition could be returned in the form of another human body or a robotic body,” he said. “You could choose whether you want to be a robot or a person or whatever.”

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