Innovator entrepreneur Elon Musk recently released a footage which showed a monkey playing pong after being implanted with Neuralink. The 9-year-old monkey is called Pager and has a Neuralink implanted in his brain. Neuralink’s ultimate aim is to implant wireless chips to brains that can help patients with neurological conditions and spinal cord injuries. The company is first of its kind that’s been making exponential growth in fusing artificial intelligence and human sentience.
Neuralink also released a statement alongside the video. The Elon Musk led company’s statement read: “We are pleased to reveal the Link’s capability to enable a macaque monkey, named Pager, to move a cursor on a computer screen with neural activity using a 1,024 electrode fully-implanted neural recording and data transmission device.”
In the video, a narrator tells the story of the macaque monkey who had the Neuralink chip implanted in his brain. The narrator says that Pager, the 9-year-old monkey, was first taught to play pong with the help of a joystick. The monkey was given the incentive of a banana smoothie to learn better. While the monkey was learning the tropes, the chip in its brain registered all the information and transmitted the information about the neurons that were colliding in its head. After learning the patterns in the video game, the people overseeing the project removed the joystick pager used from the computer. Later, Pager can be seen playing pong using only his hand and brain, without the use of a joystick.
“MindPong is an initial demonstration of the potential capabilities of the N1 Link. However, it’s important to remember that it is a small slice of what our device is intended to achieve,” the company added in its statement.
Musk himself took to Twitter to share this massive feat of scientific advancement. “Monkey plays Pong with his mind,” is all the otherwise outspoken billionaire wrote.
Monkey plays Pong with his mind https://t.co/35NIFm4C7T
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2021
Musk fired another tweet, reiterating the significance of the achievement and wrote, “A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!!”
A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2021
Musk had teased his company planting a chip in a monkey brain at one of the Clubhouse meeting in February 2020. The announcement had made a splash the way Musk had phrased the statement. “We have a monkey with a wireless implant in their skull who can play video games using his mind,” he had teased.
This is the first time the world witnessed the significance Neuralink brings with it. Back in 2020, Elon Musk had a presentation in which he showed a pig called Gertrude that had an Neuralink chip implanted in its brain. Wherever Gertrude touched its snout, the neurons in its brain fired and were displayed in the company’s computers.
In the event, Musk claimed that Neuralink can in future be helpful in solving a number of neurological issues, from addiction, to memory loss. The device could also be used in future to keep a check on a patient whether they had a heart attack and warning authorities, if they are having any such issues. Musk in the event labelled Neuralink as “Fitbit in your skull”. The use cases might sound like its from a future that’s long way off, but nonetheless, they are promising, to say the least.
Neuralink was co-founded by Musk in 2016 and is relatively low-key compared to SpaceX or Tesla (other Musk own ventures) when it comes to announcements. It’s only in the last two years that the company has had regular press briefings, attended by Musk himself in which it has gone in length about its trajectory.
These press briefings also gave Musk a centre stage to share the company’s vision and ask people to join the company. When it comes to the medical authenticity of things, Neuralink and Musk have published a paper in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical internet Research.