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“A monkey is literally playing a video game telephatically using a brain chip!” An elated Elon Musk tweeted on Friday 9 April.

Musk was relating to his company Neuralink’s latest achievement: implanting a macaque monkey with a brain chip and observing him playing a game of Pong without a joystick. That’s right, Pager, as the monkey is called, played the game by supposedly only using his brain. 

This is a big day for Neuralink, as it moves closer to its goal of one day implanting humans with brain chips to assist with motor functions for people with paralysis, for example, to be able to carry out day-to-day tasks, use computers, play video games, and more.

The goal is to enable people with the chip to simply think of a movement, and their body obeys. In order to reach this goal, Neuralink first has to carry out a lot of research, and trials, and this recent trial appeared to be a win. 

Sharing this latest monkey feat in a short three-minute YouTube video, Neuralink explained how Pager the macaque was able to control the cursor of a video game with his mind.

First off, the team implanted Pager with one of its brain chips a few months ago. And yesterday, April 8, the monkey used a 1,024 electrode fully-implanted neural recording and data transmission device, called the N1 Link, to move the game’s cursor, as the company explained in its blog.

Pager first learned how to interact with the game by using a joystick while the N1 Link device recorded his brain activity. This data was then decoded by a computer so that when the team removed the joystick, the cursor moved along with what Pager was thinking. He was ultimately able to control an entire game of Pong — which the team renamed to MindPong — purely with his thoughts.

It’s pretty incredible seeing what technology can do, and it’s clear to see Neuralink is moving forward with its goal of one day helping humans with paralysis to be able to simply think of a movement, and it happens. 

Neuralink isn’t the only company or agency working on such technology. Some governments are asking contractors to build real-life mind-controlling technologies, for instance. It’ll be interesting to see what actually comes to fruition.

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