Elon Musk’s Neuralink explains how a monkey used its brain-computer tech to play Pong


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TSLAJeff Miller/University of Wisconsin-Madison

Neuralink, the brain machine interface company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has published a YouTube video of a macaque monkey called Pager playing the video game Pong with its mind.

The 3 minute 27 second video, shared by Musk on Twitter late Thursday, appears to show the monkey controlling a computer with its brain activity.

“A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

In the video, a narrator attempts to explain how Pager is able to play Pong with his mind.

The nine-year-old monkey, which had two Neuralink devices put on each side of his brain about six weeks ago, learned how to use a joystick to move a cursor to targets on a screen in exchange for a banana smoothie delivered through a straw, the narrator says.

He goes on to explain that the company’s “Link” devices recorded Pager’s neuron activity while he interacted with the computer. This was possible due to the more than 2,000 tiny wires implanted in the regions of his motor cortex that co-ordinate hand and arm movements, the narrator said.

This data was then fed into a “decoder algorithm” to predict Pager’s intended hand movements in real time.

Once the decoder had been calibrated, Neuralink said the monkey was able to use it to move the cursor where he wanted it to go, instead of relying on the joystick.

Indeed, the YouTube video shows Pager controlling a paddle in the arcade game Pong while the joystick is unplugged.

Pigs to monkeys

In August, Neuralink conducted a live demo of its technology on three pigs. An audience was shown real-time neural signals from one of the pigs, which Musk named Gertrude.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Neuralink ultimately wants to increase the rate at which information can flow from the human brain to a machine.

While the technology is still in its infancy, Neuralink hopes that its devices will soon allow paralyzed humans to use their minds to operate machines.

On Thursday, Musk said the first Neuralink product will allow a paralyzed human to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using