Neuralink’s monkey plays a video game with the help of its mind
Elon Musk has recently tweeted that paralyzed people would be able to use their devices with the help of their minds quicker than people with their thumbs. He has also told that later implantable brain-machine interfaces would enable paraplegics to walk.
However, in the blog post, it is stated that their main aim is to give paralyzed people their digital freedom back, making it possible for them to communicate freely, be creative and play computer games.
According to Neuralink, the implant technology will be able to deal with such neurological conditions as various addictions, blindness, deafness, and depression. This is possible thanks to stimulating certain brain areas by the implant.
The macaque monkey’s name is Pager and it’s nine years old. “Link”, a small disc, was implanted into Pager’s brain. It connected micro threads of the chip to Pager’s neurons.
It is told in the video that first the monkey was taught to play the game with a joystick and got a banana smoothie for it. In the course of studies, the device was recording the data about the correspondence of neurons to the monkey’s motions.
After that, the joystick was removed and Pager used its mind only to control the process.
Brain-machine interfaces could improve the interaction between users and computers drastically. A person could just think of a message he or she wants to input and the implant could transform it into a text or speech at a very high speed.
Let’s imagine that two people can connect their implants. This would enable the interchanging of ideas and thoughts just in seconds, which would take a much longer time if they had a conversation.
On the other hand, it can’t be predicted how the technology will work out on humans. There is a fear that the implant might be hacked, and it can have baleful consequences.
Though it might sound like science fiction, there is a perception that artificial intelligence in brain-machine interfaces may take control of the owner’s brain. Elon Musk himself admits that artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humans.
To prevent implant chips from hacking they must have credible security and be easily removed and fixed in case of damage. They must be safe for the brain as well. According to Neuralink, human trials are going to start already by the end of 2021.