Neuralink aspires to connect brains and computers. It is Elon Musk’s latest project and about which we know less. After several years with tests with mice, pigs and samples of various prototypes, now they finally show what is the first demonstration of the supposed capabilities of Neuralink applied to “intelligent” beings.
In the introductory videos, Neuralink shows a monkey playing Pong. Initially the primate is using a joystick but later, according to the narration, the game moves only wirelessly, through the mental reactions of the animal.
‘Pager’, the monkey that plays Pong with his mind
As Neuralink explains on its website, the macaque, called ‘Pager’, moves the course on a computer screen using its mind, thanks to the 1,024 electrodes that are implanted in the N1 Link device.
“We have implanted the N1 Link in the hand and arm areas of the motor cortex, the part of the brain that is involved in planning and executing movements. We placed Links bilaterally: one in the left motor cortex (which controls the movements of the right side of the body) and another in the right motor cortex (which controls the left side of the body) “, they describe from the company.
Neuralink states that decades of research has been needed to achieve this and that its mission is “build a direct neural interface system Wireless, fully implantable, safe and effective clinical (BMI) that users can operate on their own and take anywhere they go. ”
Coinciding with the demo, Elon Musk has posted several of his popular tweets. In them he describes the objectives of Neuralink, stating that “the first Neuralink product will allow someone with paralysis use a smartphone with the mind faster than someone who uses their thumbs … Later versions will be able to divert signals from Neuralinks in the brain to Neuralinks in groups of sensory / motor neurons in the body, thus allowing paraplegics to walk again, for example.
Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2021
The use of Pong for the demonstration is quite common in brain experiments, although it is strange that the animal is presented playing almost like a commercial video, when the usual thing in this type of research is to present the video as a complement to a study or analysis.
Following the video it is difficult to appreciate anything beyond what they promise from Neuralink. It does seem feasible that the brain can make the courses move or even play Pong. One type of project, that of brain-computer interfaces, which will grow in popularity over the next few years. At least that is what stems from initiatives such as Neuralink or Facebook itself, which recently showed its bracelet to click with the mind.
More information | Neuralink