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This article was published on April 9, 2021


Watch a cyborg monkey play Pong with its mind, thanks to Elon Musk’s Neuralink

A computer chip's been implanted in the macaque's brain

Watch a cyborg monkey play Pong with its mind, thanks to Elon Musk’s Neuralink
Thomas Macaulay
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Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC. Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC.

Elon Musk hopes to put computer chips in our brains that will enable “human-AI symbiosis.” But for now, he’s focused on making monkeys play video games.

Musk’s Neuralink startup posted a video today of a primate playing Pong with its mind.

The nine-year-old macaque, called Pager, has a Neuralink implanted in his brain.

Pager was first trained to play Pong with a joystick in return for a banana smoothie reward.

As he played, his neural activity was captured by a 1,024 electrode device, called the N1 Link.

This data was transmitted to a decoder that mapped Pager’s neural patterns to his joystick movements. After a few minutes of calibration, the software could predict Pager’s movements by analyzing his brain activity.

[Read: Valve co-founder says brain-computer interfaces will let you ‘edit’ your feelings]

When the Neuralink team disconnected the joystick, Pager kept playing, using his mind alone. He still moved the unplugged joystick, however. The poor monkey has no idea that he’s now a cyborg.

Musk previously demoed a brain implant in a pig, called Gertrude, at an event in September. Gertrude hasn’t been seen since.

But swine and monkeys are only the start. Musk now plans to produce Neuralink devices for people with paralysis.

If that goes well, Musk hopes to offer all of us brain implants, and ultimately merge human consciousness with AI. What could possibly go wrong?

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