Elon Musk's Neuralink shows monkey with brain chip playing video game with its mind

He joked the primate could start playing games with humans on Twitch

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's brain chip start-up released footage on Friday appearing to show a monkey playing a simple video game after being implanted with the new technology.

The three-minute video by Neuralink shows Pager, a male macaque with chips embedded on each side of his brain, playing Mind Pong. Although he was trained to move a joystick, it is now unplugged. He controls the paddle simply by thinking about moving his hand up or down.

"Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor or sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again. The device is implanted flush with the skull and charges wirelessly, so you look and feel totally normal."

Neuralink works by recording and decoding electrical signals from the brain using more than 2,000 electrodes implanted in regions of the monkey's motor cortex that co-ordinate hand and arm movements, according to an informational video released by the company.

"Using these data, we calibrate the decoder by mathematically modelling the relationship between patterns of neural activity and the different joystick movements they produce."

Co-founded by Mr Musk in 2016, San Francisco-based Neuralink aims to use wireless brain computer chips to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia as well as spinal cord injuries, fusing humankind with artificial intelligence.

Mr Musk seemed taken aback by the company's revelations on Friday, tweeting "a monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!"

He also posted a Twitter thread detailing future steps that Neuralink could take with this technology.

In August 2020, Mr Musk unveiled a pig sporting a Neuralink chip implant, describing it as "a Fitbit in your skull".

Mr Musk has a history of bringing together diverse experts to develop technology previously limited to academic labs, including rockets and electrical vehicles, through companies such as Tesla and SpaceX.

Further showing his excitement, Mr Musk also joked that the monkey will soon be featured on gaming platforms like Twitch.

Updated: April 11, 2021 09:08 AM

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