Monkeying Around Gets Serious with Neuralink

neuralink-monkey-experiment

MIND your business!

What if Alexander the great had the power to conquer the entire world just by sitting on his royal throne? He wouldn’t have needed to carry the Macedonian arms to India or fight the mammoth Battle of the Hydaspes. Moreover, he would have ruled the world effortlessly, without any war, without merciless killings, without any sign of chaos, simply by controlling the world (and maybe the Universe) with the application of his mind. Yes, MIND!!! A magical organ we all are equipped with and we don’t have any idea to what extent one can use it. To demolish or to create, the choice is ours! But, Elon Musk had the exact idea, and so, he fondly dedicated his time, energy, and of course brain, to the brain-machine interface development, a pathbreaking initiative by his neurotech venture, Neuralink.

A PLAYFUL monkey!

The footage of a monkey playing the Pong video game stirred the tech world during last year. It was a part of Elon Musk’s machine-to-brain interface project. Pager, a 9-year-old macaque monkey, was used as a specimen for this breakthrough session. Two Neuralink devices were implanted in the macaque’s brain six weeks before the test. The devices were implanted in a zone known as the motor cortex, which is responsible for coordinating the arm and hand movement.

The footage showed that the monkey was first taught the usage of a joystick to control the cursor on the given screen. The cursor was designed to focus on the targets in exchange for a fruit smoothie offered through a straw. The implanted devices registered his neuron activities as he coordinated with the system, feeding the data obtained into a “decoder algorithm” to observe the real-time hand movements of the macaque. In due course, Pager was capable of moving the cursor according to his wish, without disturbing the joystick.

The experiment was a stepping stone in Neuralink’s voyage to merge artificial intelligence with human consciousness. As Musk stated in a tweet, the first product of Neuralink has been planned keeping in mind the communication hurdles faced by a paralyzed person on a regular basis. With Neuralink’s trailblazing product, the person must be able to operate a smartphone with his mind and the process will be way faster than the output derived through a manually operated smartphone. That’s indeed a disruptive step towards the future of biotechnology.

He further added that the later versions of the project shall be able to emit signals from Neuralinks implanted in the brain to Neuralinks implanted in the body’s sensory neuron clusters, helping the paraplegics to gain back their capacity to walk.

However!

There were accusations claiming that the monkey experiment caused an unbearable amount of suffering for the monkeys. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine blamed Neuralink for the death of several monkeys due to the experiment. Elon Musk, on the other hand, denied these accusations stating that only 8 monkeys were euthanized for the sake of a project that is rigorously studying animal and human behaviour with the goal of launching a technology that could assist in the research and treatment of neurological disorders.

You can watch the video in youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rXrGH52aoM

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