Elon Musk under fire: Eerie Neuralink monkey video sparks online outrage – ‘This is sick’

Neuralink: Macaque plays videos games with its mind

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The bizarre scene, straight out of a science-fiction film, caused a stir online after being shared on Twitter by Elon Musk. Although praised by most for demonstrating the potential power of using neural implants to aid people who have lost control of their limbs, a vocal minority of netizens attacked the Neuralink research. People have branded the video footage “sick” and have called on Mr Musk and Neuralink to cease their work.

According to the company, which was co-founded by the South African billionaire in 2016, a nine-year-old macaque named Pager had two chips implanted on either side of its brain.

The chips read the electric signals in the monkey’s brain and, even more bizarrely, allow researchers to connect to Pager via a smartphone.

In a video shared on Friday, Neuralink explained how the chips allow the monkey to control its “favourite video game”, Pong.

Although victory itself would normally be the goal of the virtual ping pong match, Pager instead plays for spurts of banana smoothie from a metal straw.

Every time the macaque hits the digital ping pong ball with its paddle, it is rewarded with a tasty treat.

But what is even more incredible than the monkey keeping up with the game, is the fact it does so without the use of its hands.

The Neuralink chips in the monkey’s brain allow Pager to control the game’s paddle simply by thinking about it.

A narrator in the video says: “One of the things Neuralinks allow Pager to do, is to play his favourite video game, Pong.

“To control his paddle on the right side of the screen, Pager simply thinks about moving his hand up or down. We’ve removed the joystick altogether.”

As bizarre as it may seem, Mr Musk believes brain-computer interfaces like Neuralink will open up a whole new world for people with disabilities.

For instance, the SpaceX and Tesla chief said on Friday Neuralink will enable people with paralysis to use their smartphones “faster than someone using thumbs”.

Elon Musk outlines his Neuralink brain implant trial on pigs

He tweeted: “Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again.

“The device is implanted flush with skull and charges wirelessly, so you look and feel totally normal.”

In another tweet, the South African tech mogul agreed technology is bringing people closer to merging with artificial intelligence.

The Neuralink monkey video, which Mr Musk shared with his more than 50 million Twitter followers, was met with a mix of praise and concern.

Not everyone was convinced the research would be used for good.

One person said: “This is really sick and this kind of research should be forbidden.

“I don’t buy that the purpose is to help people with brain damage.

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“There are other intentions and I don’t like them. We should petition the government to stop this nonsense immediately.”

Another person complained: “F no! F the Hell no! Elon Musk should never be allowed to put chips in anyone’s brain to make life ‘easier’.”

Many people, however, see Neuralink as an opportunity to help those who have lost control of their bodies.

In the long run, Mr Musk said Neuralink chips will even allow people to communicate “telepathically”.

And though the technology is still in its infancy, many people are already holding out for more breakthroughs to come.

One person said: “As the mother of a little boy with special needs, I can’t thank you enough for always pushing the limits!

“My son has a rare disease called dyrk1a Syndrome which affects his speaking ability.

“This type of technology gives me great hope for my sons future.”

And another person tweeted: “My dad needs Neuralink desperately. I do wish human trials were going on.

“He needs pain and addiction to pain meds blocked. He needs to heal.

“Nothing else has worked. Not surgery, not shots, nothing. He calls me crying all the time. Neuralink can’t come soon enough.”

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