One of Elon Musk's companies, Neuralink, which develops brain implants, posted a video on the official YouTube channel with a monkey playing the classic Pong game solely with its own mind. It was reported that the chip was successfully implanted into the monkey's brain back on February 1.
The hero of the video is called Pager, a 9-year-old macaque monkey with a Neuralink chip implanted six weeks before shooting. First, the animal was taught to play with a joystick. It moved the cursor following an orange square, and a banana smoothie was given to Pager through a metal straw to reward him.
While the monkey was playing, the Neuralink implant was recording information about which neurons were involved in the gaming process, thus learning to predict hand movements. In a blog post, researchers say the chip was able to predict where the animal would move the cursor even before it physically performed the action.
Then the joystick was taken from Pager, but scientists turned on Pong. The monkey did not move the joystick but completely controlled the actions in the game by the power of thought with the help of the implanted neural chip.
Elon Musk said on Twitter that the first Neuralink product would allow a person with paralysis to mentally use a smartphone faster than someone who uses their fingers. And in the future, Neuralink products should help people with paralyzed lower limbs to walk again:
The chip is a small device with almost 3.1 thousand microelectrodes. At the same time, the chip will be implanted discreetly into the skull and charge wirelessly, making it look and feel perfectly normal:
Earlier, Neuralink employees have already reported that installing the neurochip takes about an hour. A special robot does this, and this does not require anesthesia. The neurochip can also be freely removed without any health consequences.
Musk also tweeted that the monkey will soon be on Twitch and Discord, both of which gaming services. Musk's followers appreciated the joke and added that the monkey's donations could be sent to animal protection funds.
The neuro interface developed by Neuralink will be able to help people with nervous system disorders overcome physical limitations: to move after a spinal injury or see and hear despite brain damage. Elon Musk promises that the company will also restore mobility to the paralyzed.