Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain implant company, released a video Thursday evening that gives the first real look at the technology we’ve ever seen. In the video, a Neuralink scientist explains how the company implanted a chip onto a monkey’s brain, captured the patterns of neurons firing as it played a video game, and then enabled the monkey to pay “mind pong,” in which the monkey controls a pong paddle with its brain alone. On Twitter, Musk said he hopes to begin human trials later this year.
“To control his paddle, Paige simply thinks about moving his hand up or down,” the narrator of the video says as the monkey seemingly casually plays a quite fast game of pong.
“He had a Neuralink placed on each side of his brain about six weeks ago. If you look carefully, you can still see the fur on his head hasn’t grown back yet,” the narrator of the video explains. “The Neuralinks record from more than 2,000 electrodes implanted in the regions of Paige’s motor cortex that coordinate hand and arm movements.”
The narrator explains that they first calibrated Paige’s movements by recording their neural activity while playing with a joystick. They were then able to play the game “entirely with decoded neural activity.”
The technology used in the video is reminiscent of that used in humans, rats, and monkeys by Duke University researchers, in which researchers have made brain-to-brain interfaces and have allowed people, rats, and monkeys to play games with their minds. But what Neuralink has done is miniaturize the technology with the help of a billionaire.
“Our goal is to enable a person with paralysis to use a computer or phone with their brain activity alone,” the narrator said. “Because they wouldn’t be able to use a joystick, they would move the decoder by imagining hand movements.”