See Elon Musk’s Neuralink in Action as Pager plays a game of Pong

April 09, 2021 | 3 minutes read

Elon Musk’s Neuralink has successfully enabled a 9-year-old Macaque (Pager) to play a Pong video game.


After successfully demonstrating how Neuralink works with a Pig, Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company has released a video of a Monkey playing video games with the help of a Neuralink chip implanted in each side of his brain. Pager has learned to interact with a computer screen through a joystick for a tasty banana treat delivered via a straw.


How does Neuralink Brain Chip Work?

As seen in the video, this state-of-the-art technology can be interacted with by simply pairing a smartphone (an iPhone in this case) to the implants. Similar to how you would connect your phone to a car audio system via Bluetooth. 


The links in the chip record the neural activity from over 2000 electrodes implanted in a specific region of the brain called the Motor Cortex that aids the coordination of hands and arms movement. Neurons in the region adjust the activity according to the intended hand movement.

For instance; Some of these neurons become more active when Pager moves his hand to the right and others and others when he moves it to the left, up, or down.


The scientists at Elon Musk’s Nueralink record the activities and then use the magic of AI & ML-powered algorithms to predict the Macaque’s hand movements in real-time. So how exactly do they make a monkey play video games? Well, the Neuralink scientists were able to achieve this by initially calibrating the decoder. They recorded the neural activity as Pager plays a game of Pong using a joystick to move a circular cursor towards presented targets on a screen. 


As the Macaque is playing the video game, the researchers can monitor the activity of the neurons, in real-time, on a screen. They then use this data to calibrate the decoder using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms to model a relationship between the neural activity and the resulting joystick movements.


After just a few minutes, the scientists were able to use the data from the decoder to move the cursor without operating the joystick. It can be seen in the video that the joystick was unplugged after a while. Pager is still using the control but it is not doing anything anymore. So how is the cursor moving? He is controlling the cursor entirely with his brain. Or more precisely, with decoded neural activity using AI and ML technologies.


What’s the point of Neuralink?

Elon Musk’s Neuralink’s goal is to empower people with disabilities such as Paralysis. It will allow them to use a computer or a smartphone to perform tasks with their brain-power alone. Since they won’t be able to use their hands to perform any task, they would calibrate a decoder by just imagining their hands performing certain movements. Just like the Neuralink brain chip allows Pager to play pong. To move the cursor, he simply thinks of moving his hands.


It sounds like magic but it isn’t. The reason why Neuralink works is that AI is becoming more powerful. It is accurately recording and decoding electrical impulses given off by the brain. 


Let’s see what Elon Musk’s Neuralink comes up with next.  InvoZone will keep you updated.