Neuralink, Elon Musk’s company, has managed to make a monkey control a famous video game with only his mind control and has recorded it on video.
The fact that Elon Musk has his sights very set on the future arrival of SpaceX on Mars right now does not mean that he has left aside other of his projects. A good example of this is Neuralink. The company, which emerged in 2016, gives us almost every year a demonstration of what they have achieved so far in terms of mind control of movements. We have known that they intend to help paraplegics walk, and even investigate the memories of the human being. Both phenomena are on the horizon, but this artificial intelligence strategy has already achieved some steps, such as getting a monkey to control a game with its mind.
It is precisely what can be seen in a video just published by the company. It shows a nine-year-old macaque playing MindPong. In fact, Elon Musk himself had already announced earlier this year that he intended to achieve this goal. But it was not until a few hours ago that we were finally able to see the animal in action. Now, how have they managed to get to this point?
Neuralink’s ‘magic’ of mind control
Neuralink is a company in charge of the development of brain-machine interfaces, which would allow the mental control of a large number of tasks.
In general, these consist of a series of very fine wires, equipped with electrodes, which are implanted in the skull. With them, signals from the brain can be captured and translated into movements, without the need for the locomotor system to intervene in them.
In the case of the monkey in the video, they say that they have achieved it thanks to the training of the animal, to which the Neuralink interface was previously installed. For six weeks, he was taught to use a video game, called Pong, widely used in this type of experiment. The reward, if done correctly, was a banana smoothie.
While training, the electrodes picked up the signals that led to the joystick movements.
Finally, the monkey was put back in front of the game, but this time without the controller. The primate, waiting for its long-awaited fruit shake, kept thinking about the movements of the game, even if it did not have the joystick. Therefore, it emitted the same signals, which were captured by Neuralink and translated in the development of the game. In short, the monkey was controlling with his mind what was happening on the screen, thanks to the device of Elon Musk’s company.
Elon Musk’s future projects
On his Twitter account, Elon Musk has explained that one of Neuralink’s goals is for paraplegics to walk again. Or even that someone with paralysis can handle a smartphone faster than a person who uses their thumbs normally.
These are just some of the challenges you hope to achieve thanks to this mind control interface. Who knows? Perhaps in the future decided to merge two of its large companies and someone paralyzed can handle the controls of a SpaceX ship. Or maybe that’s already too much science fiction. Only time will tell.