Using Elon Musk’s Neuralink, Monkeys Can Play Pong With Their Minds

Jacob Goings

On April 8th, the YouTube channel that is run by Neuralink released a video of a monkey learning how to use the Neuralink to play Pong with its mind.

At the beginning of this video, a rhesus macaque (a type of primate) named Pager is shown using a joystick to move a white ball into squares that are lit up, and him sucking on a metal straw with a banana smoothie treat on the inside.

At about the halfway point in the video, the researchers unplugged the joystick, yet Pager still seemed to be playing the game just fine.

This is because the electrical signals from his brain are being transmitted to the neurological implant and then sent to the computer.

The data that Pager’s brain gathered while having the joystick plugged in, which linked his hand, the joystick, and the cursor, is being taken by the implant and put into the linked software to move the cursor on the screen.

Towards the end of the video, Pager is playing Pong without a joystick, which is a much more complicated game than the one he was previously playing.

It is shown that there is no joystick in sight, and Pager is only using one of his hands to hold the straw. “This is really cool. I hope they can get this technology finished soon so it can help people,” says Quinton Turpin, a sophomore at Lakewood High School.

In a post that accompanied this YouTube video on the Nerualink website, the company says that Pager can do this because he has a bilateral implant on both sides of his brain in his motor cortex. This means that he can control the Pong paddles in real-time, and just by thinking about which direction they should move.

One of the near goals of this implant is to let people with paralysis control cursors with their minds.

The final goal of this implant would let people with paralysis send neurons into a computer, which then sends them back into their paralyzed nerves and muscles, which would then restore their mobility.