Monkeys Are Learning To Play Video Games With Their Mind

Elon Musk has said that using his Neuralink technology, they are teaching monkeys to play video games using only their minds.

By Ross Bonaime | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

Donkey Kong Video Games

In what is either another step in Elon Musk becoming a supervillain, or simply a way for him to have someone to play Fortnite with, Elon Musk has said that he is teaching monkeys to play video games with their mind. 

Elon Musk said in an interview that through his company Neuralink, they have put a computer chip inside of a monkey’s skull and used “tiny wires” that connect to the monkey’s brain. With this setup, they are teaching monkeys to play video games with their mind. While discussing the monkey on Clubhouse, Musk said “it’s not an unhappy monkey,” and said they are trying to see if they can get the monkeys to play “mind Pong” against each other. Honestly, it seems like it would be impressive if he taught monkeys to play Pong using their hands as well.

Recently, there have been several companies that have explored playing video games with the mind. For example, one experience from tech startup Neurable has created a game that requires a headband with six electrodes that registers brain activity. This headband is used to play the game Awakening, which is a first-person game with a character with superpowers. This reading of the player’s thoughts is supposed to emulate the character’s powers.

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Elon Musk says that while now the Neuralink technology is being used to teach monkeys how to play video games, the future possibilities have a more serious implementation. Musk says that with Neuralink, quadriplegics could use this link with technology to control a computer mouse, their phone, or any electronic device. Musk also stated that in the future, Neuralink technology could theoretically be used to send ideas from one person to another, or that a person’s memories could be put into a robot or another human.

Elon Musk previously demonstrated Neuralink’s possibilities with pigs who had received the chip, which was shown to be about the size of a coin. At the time, Musk described the device as a “Fitbit in your skull.” Musk also said that Neuralink could help with those facing blindness, memory loss, insomnia, and other medical conditions. Musk stated that the technology probably won’t be available to the mainstream as an elective surgery for more than a decade due to ethical and safety issues. No word on if the pigs can also play video games, or even better, if the pigs can play Pong against the monkeys. 

While the Neuralink technology is only being shown right now as a way for monkeys to play video games, the implications for this technology are pretty vast. Sure, lazy people could theoretically use it to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons without using their controllers, but for those with serious illnesses or handicaps, it could be a major breakthrough. Of course, that depends on whether or not people want Elon Musk’s company implanting a device into their brain, and the ethical questions that would arise from people electing to attach small computers to their brains. But as of right now, Musk showing off monkeys playing video games with their brains is a neat trick, and definitely not a way for Musk to eventually take over the world through video game-loving primates.