Elon Musk brain-chip start-up released a much anticipated footage on Friday, which showed a monkey playing a video game after getting implants of the new technology. This is hard to believe as we can only imagine such things in a Terminator movie, but now the billionaire entrepreneur has made this into a reality.
Musk and his team at Neuralink have been working on a brain-machine interface, with the immediate target being people who have become paralyzed. Our sensory and motor functions are controlled by a series of electrochemical spikes in the brain. As neurons fire across our synapses, they send complex commands to our eyes, ears and limbs. Musk’s brain-machine interface interprets and controls those commands.
“First @Neuralink product will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs,” Musk tweeted on Thursday. Neuralink works by recording and decoding electrical signals from the brain using more than 2,000 electrodes implanted in regions of the monkey’s motor cortex that coordinate hand and arm movements, the video’s voiceover said. “Using these data, we calibrate the decoder by mathematically modelling the relationship between patterns of neural activity and the different joystick movements they produce.”
The three-minute video by Neuralink shows Pager, a male macaque with chips embedded on each side of its brain, playing “Mind Pong”. He was trained to move a joystick and controls the paddle simply by thinking about moving his hand up or down.
The San Francisco-based Neuralink aims to implant wireless brain computer chips to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries and fuse humankind with artificial intelligence. According to Forbes, researchers at Neuralink began by developing ultrathin electrodes called threads. At only 10 to 40 microns in width, threads are thinner than a strand of human hair. They are small enough to penetrate brain tissue without puncturing blood vessels, and they can be packed more tightly on silicon.