Neuralink: The latest demonstration by Neuralink, Elon Musk’s scientific experiment company, gave the talk.In the video released last Friday (9), a monkey appears playing the classic video game Pong using his mind, from a device implanted in the animal’s cerebral cortex, capable of reading impulses and transforming them into movement on the screen.
Although it was highly praised, the video did not impress the entire scientific community. One of the critics is neurobiologist Andrew Schwartz, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, in the United States, and a specialist in visual interfaces controlled by the brain.
Could be better
In an interview with the website Inverse, Schwartz called the performance shown in the video “quite rudimentary”. According to him, scientists have been able to perform very similar control feats in research for 20 years.
For this reason, Neuralink should demonstrate “much better control” with the equipment created, which simultaneously records the activity of several neurons.
“It sounds cool, but in terms of what they should be able to do with such a rich signal, it is disappointing. They should at least be able to do what they achieved with one or two hundred electrodes, they should have at least ten degrees of freedom from movement “, elaborates the scientist.
For Schwartz, this means that Neuralink should already be able to make the video monkey move 3D objects without major problems.
And the professor has feedback to make these observations: in 2008, a team led by him managed to reproduce a test with monkeys that were able to move food close to themselves using a robotic arm totally controlled by the brain.
When the company’s first animal tests were released, using a pig’s brain signals, the criticisms of researchers in the field were similar. In addition, even European startups said they were more advanced in the sector.
On the other hand, the researcher praised the equipment used by Neuralink, which consists of a high amount of electrodes (1,024 units) fully implanted and a proper and advanced device for sending data.
“Technically, from an engineering point of view, the data recording and transmission equipment looks very good and this could be an improvement,” he explained. The problem, therefore, would be the little advance reported in comparison with current studies and the capacity of the Neuralink equipment.
Musk’s promise is that the neural command can, in the most advanced and optimistic hypothesis, help quadriplegic people to recover body movements.