The paralyzed man challenged Pong to Neuralink’s monkey


Copeland has used mental commands to play video games, including classic Sega games like Sega the Hedgehog. He admitted that whether to challenge Musk’s monkey is a “difficult” question. “I can beat my ass,” he said. “But I can play.”

Copeland challenged in an interview Today’s plot National Public Broadcasting Program Science Friday, He seems to be discussing the brain interface.

Neuralink, a secret company founded by Musk in 2016, did not respond to our attempts to tackle Pong’s challenge.

Nathan Copeland played Pong with nerve implants at the University of Pittsburgh this week.


Play at home

The brain interface works by recording the electrical excitation of neurons in the motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement). The firing rate of each neuron contains information about the movement that the subject is doing or is only imagining. Then, the “decoder” program converts the signal into a command that can be transmitted to the computer cursor.

Copeland is one of the few people with an older style implant (called the Utah Array), which he used in experiments at the University of Pittsburgh to do things that include moving robotic arms. Before Copeland performs the task, he trains for 10 minutes so that the algorithm can map the firing signals of his neurons to specific movements. After such a conversation, Copeland said that he can think of the computer cursor to the left or right, forward or backward. Trying to close the hand will cause a mouse click.

Beginning in March last year, the Pittsburgh team arranged for Copland to use his brain implant alone to operate the tablet at home. He uses it to browse the web and use a painting program to draw pictures of cats. Last spring, he used it for six hours a day. He said: “It got me through the pandemic.”

MS Paint Cat
This photo of a cat was drawn by Nathan Copeland. He is paralyzed but uses a brain-computer interface to control the computer. The image is sold as an irreplaceable token.


This tablet is not particularly powerful. And it can only be used with batteries. He shouldn’t plug his brain into any device directly connected to the grid, because no one knows what the effects of a power surge will have. Jeffrey Weiss, a Pittsburgh researcher who works with Copeland, said: “I encourage him to use the software he installs with caution.” “I have no restrictions other than not breaking things, and no malware. It’s just Windows machine.”

The Copeland interface was installed by neurosurgeons six years ago. He has four silicon implants in total. The two on his motor cortex allow him to control the robotic arm or computer cursor used in the experiment. In the somatosensory part of his brain, the other two allow the scientist to send signals to his brain, which he records as pressure or finger tingling.

Monkey’s advantage

If a mind match occurs, Neuralink’s primates will have the advantage of a next-generation interface, which the company calls “links.” Although Copeland had to connect cables to the two ports of his skull, Neuralink’s implant was only the size of a soda bottle cap and was completely embedded in the skull. It transmits brain records wirelessly via Bluetooth.

“This is a very promising device, but it is a new device and there are many questions about it,” Weiss said. “No one other than Neuralink can view it.” The company said that it hopes to recruit human subjects, but this will depend on how the implant is maintained in animals, including pigs. Neuralink is working on it. test. Weiss said: “No one knows whether this will last six months or six years.”


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