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Elon Musk’s Neuralink reveals monkey playing Pong with brain implant

Neuralink, started by the brain implant founded by SpaceX head honcho and self-proclaimed “technocrat” Elon Musk, has revealed a new video of a nine-year-old monkey named “Pager” playing Pong … with his brain.

The three-minute video shows Pager learning to control a computer with his brain activity. First, the monkey uses a joystick to interact with the computer for a “tasty banana smoothie, delivered through a straw.” The narrator says that Pager has two Neuralink devices implanted in his brain. The devices, which Musk calls a “Fitbit for your skull”

;, were unveiled at a press conference in August 2020.

As Pager plays through the game, the narrator tells that the Neuralink devices in his brain read his brain activity and that this activity is decoded by a computer. When the team disconnects the joystick, Pager continues to play the game – and the brain implant allows him to play “MindPong”, as Neuralink has called it.

The full video is below.

Musk claimed in a tweet Thursday that the first product from the launch would allow “someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone who uses thumbs.”

It is a future that still seems far away.

“MindPong is an initial demonstration of the potential opportunities for N1 Link,” the company said in a press release. “However, it is important to remember that it is a small piece of what our device is intended to achieve.”

Neuralink has been relatively quiet since it was founded in 2016. Over the last two years, the startup has produced two Musk-Helmed press briefings, which describes its progress. In 2019, the Neuralink device debuted, and steady progress appeared to have been made the following year when the pig implants were unveiled.

The briefings also served as a recruitment drive, with Musk asking people to get in touch and join. A similar call is sent at the end of the Neuralink monkey video. But the information is still scarce: Musk and Neuralink published a scientific paper in the Journal of Medical Internet Research back in October 2019.

Musk teased Neuralink had wired a monkey’s brain to play video games during a clubhouse meeting back in February. “We have a monkey with a wireless implant in their skull that can play video games using his mind,” he noted. We have now seen it in action, but we do not have much in the way of scientific evidence here, yet.

In the simultaneous press release on Neuralink’s website, the company says “our first goal is to give people with paralysis their digital freedom back: to communicate more easily via text, to follow their curiosity online, to express their creativity through photography and art, and yes, that play video games. “

It’s been a weird few days for Neuralink. Earlier this week, Neuralink’s president and co-founder, Max Hodak, made an ambiguous tweet about Jurassic Park, which many publications meant that Neuralink invested in dino-DNA development. Monkeys playing Pong are not quite dino-DNA, but … maybe it’s even more impressive? Who should I tell?

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