Neuralink Elona Muska, one of his many companies and the only one currently focusing on mind control (which we are aware of), has published a new blog post and video detailing some of his latest updates – including the use of hardware to make it possible to the monkey plays pong only with his brain.
In the video above, Neuralink shows how he used sensor hardware and brain implants to record the basic activity of this macaque (called ‘Pager’) while playing a screen game where he had to move a token to different squares using a joystick by hand. Using that basic data, Neuralink was able to use machine learning to predict where Pager would move the physical controller and was eventually able to predict it exactly before the move was actually made. The researchers then completely removed the paddle, and eventually did the same thing with Pong, only to end up in a place where Pager no longer even moved his hand in the air on a non-existent paddle, but instead fully controlled the action in the game his mind via Link hardware and embedded neural filaments.
The last we saw from Neuralink, Musk himself demonstrated Link technology live, in August 2020, using pigs to show how he is able to read signals from the brain, depending on different stimuli. This new demonstration with Pager more clearly outlines the direction the technology is going in terms of human applications, because, as the company shared on its blog, the same technology could be used to help paralyzed patients manipulate the cursor on a computer, an instance. This could be applied to other paradigms as well, including touch controls on the iPhone and even typing using a virtual keyboard, the company says.
Musk tweeted separately that he actually expects the initial version of the Neuralink product to allow someone paralyzed who prevents standard ways of telephone interaction to use it faster than people who use their thumbs to enter data. He also added that future iterations of the product will be able to allow communication between Neuralinks in different parts of the patient’s body, transmitting for example a node in the brain and neural pathways in the legs, allowing “paraplegics to walk again.”
These are obviously bold claims, but the company cites a host of existing research that corroborates its existing demonstrations and short-term goals. Musk’s more ambitious claims, as well as all his projections, should definitely be understood with a healthy dose of skepticism. He added that he hopes human trials will begin to begin “hopefully later this year,” for example – which is already two years later than he initially assumed it could begin.