Elon Musk is both famous and infamous for his mind-blowing ideas and enterprises but one that’s almost literally so is the idea of hooking up brains to computers to allow the control of other computers using just brainpower. To prove that he’s actually serious, Musk even founded the startup Neuralink to research and develop the technology to make that happen. That startup has reportedly hit an important milestone, according to Musk, an achievement that includes implanting a chip on a “not unhappy” monkey in order to let it play a video game using mind control.
The actual goal of Musk and Neuralink is to cut out the middleman when it comes to interfacing with external computers. Musk says that humans today are practically like cyborgs because of their use and dependence on devices like phones and computers. That said, the connection between humans and computers, namely fingers or voice, are low-bandwidth and slow. Neuralink, therefore, wants to create a neural brain-to-machine interface that would make that almost as fast as a thought, quite literally, too.
That would, of course, require some sort of implant, and Neuralink’s design involves a chip that uses tiny wires to connect to the brain itself. Naturally, the company’s first experiments involve animals, from pigs to monkeys, and its CEO, none other than Musk, was only too proud to reveal their latest achievement.
On the nascent Clubhouse social media platform, Musk recounted how they successfully installed an implant on a monkey to allow it to play “mind Pong” with other monkeys. He didn’t go into much detail about how successful that last part was but assured listeners that it’s not an unhappy monkey. We’re likely to hear a more formal and public press release about this achievement soon.
The applications of Neuralink’s technologies could be far and wide, including near-telepathic communication that is the stuff of science fiction. More immediately, however, the brain-machine interface could give persons with physical disabilities like quadriplegics the ability to control machines, computers, and other devices just by thinking about it rather than having to rely on some alternative physical interface.