Connect the human brain to computers to achieve mind control . That’s one of the many fixations of billionaire engineer and mogul Elon Musk , who in 2017 launched the tech firm Neuralink to achieve what would be a scientific milestone.
Four years later, that dream seems a little less science fiction . And it is that the company has published the details of an experiment that has culminated with a monkey playing the video game Pong with only his brain.
Neuralink has used a macaque nicknamed Pager to demonstrate their progress. The animal had a chip implanted on both sides of its brain that records its neural activity . A sensor technology developed by the company with Bluetooth detects the signals that that chip emits.
First, the macaque plays a game using a joystick, a joystick to control the movement of a ball that it has to place inside an orange square. As a reward, the animal is fed a banana juice. This has made the monkey learn to solve the problems posed by the machine. Something that allows you to go to a more demanding level and play Pong.
Neuralink has gone a step further and has used the different signals sent by the monkey’s brain so that an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can automatically create patterns in order to anticipate in which direction the controller will move.
When Pager’s control mechanism was removed, he continued playing, but then the decisions of his brain were no longer executed by his hand, but by the Neuralink technology that read those stimuli to transfer them to the video game.
In 2019 Neuralink presented its brain implants and in 2020 announced the creation of a version without wiring. This technology was then tested with pigs and it was possible to capture the neural data that they emitted.
The ultimate goal of the company founded by Musk, also Tesla’s father and one of the minds behind PayPal , is to develop technology that can be used in humans to give people with paralysis the ability to control computers.
However, other intentions have also been set as a goal, such as controlling your mobile phone or a virtual keyboard with the brain . That, according to Musk, could also open the door to the control of other devices such as leg braces, allowing paraplegics to walk again.
However, the promises of the tycoon and Neuralink are still far from being fulfilled. Musk has said he hopes to start experimenting with the technology with humans this year, but previously set the date for 2019.