Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Monkey Playing Video Games? Elon Musk Introduces Groundbreaking Product, Neuralink

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Tesla CEO, Elon Musk recently unveiled Neuralink, a groundbreaking wireless device that enables a  monkey to play Ping Pong using its mind. 

The team behind Neuralink shared that they trained a macaque monkey named Pager to play a video game. Initially, Pager used a joystick for controls and was rewarded each time with a smoothie. The team then used the device to record the information to determine brain activity. 

Is Neuralink The Future of Healthcare? 

In a Twitter post, the Tesla CEO believed that Neuralink might change the future of healthcare. 

The product uses a BMI (Brain Machine Interface) system which works by implanting a wireless device. Musk notes that Neuralink maps out brain activity and guides experts to stimulate movement from the nerves and muscles.

The Tesla CEO shared that the device can help people with neurological conditions to have a more normal life.

Musk explained that Neuralink enables people with disabilities to use digital devices such as phones and computers. “Our first goal is to give people with paralysis their digital freedom back, to communicate more easily via text, and follow their curiosity on the web.” 

He noted that it would help someone with paralysis to type faster in their smartphone using their minds instead of their thumbs. The CEO added it would also give people an opportunity to “express their creativity and, yes, to play video games.”

“Superhuman Cognition” 

In another post, Musk also shared his excitement about the possibilities for Neuralink. The CEO hopes that interface will bring a new era of “superhuman cognition.” 

The firm believed that breakthrough technology might give way to a different kind of world.  Neuralink’s co-founder, Max Hodak, shared that the new system can help experts create new species and even bring back extinct ones. Hodak noted that in the next 15 years, they might even be able to recreate Jurassic.

While Musk remained confident that the technology will restore mobility for those who have paralysis he clarified that for now, the research covers animals. He also admitted that it might take some before they can reach technology that is fit for humans. 

Accusations of Animal Cruelty

Unfortunately, not everyone is on board with Musk’s idea. In fact, some organizations accused the Tesla CEO of animal cruelty. The backlash began in September of 2020 when the company released a video that featured Gertrude, one of the three pigs in the trial. In the footage, the company explained that they implanted a microchip to track Gertrude’s neural activity while she was looking for food.  

Experts also questioned the welfare of the animals involved in the trial. Dr. Katy Taylor, a director at Cruelty-Free International,  described the experiments as “grotesque.” Neuralink immediately shut down accusations of animal cruelty. In a statement, the company claimed that the animals lived in a safe environment under the careful supervision of vets. The company also shared that Pager lives in a treehouse with another monkey and enjoys his afternoon resting in a hammock.

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