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Elon Musk’s Neuralink scientists are not the first to get a monkey to control a computer with its mind

Elon Musk. Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images Elon Musk's Neuralink showed off its technology allowing a monkey to play video games with it…

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GettyImages 1229892421Elon Musk.

Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

  • Elon Musk’s Neuralink showed off its technology allowing a monkey to play video games with its mind.
  • Scientists have been able to get monkeys to control computer cursors via neural interfaces since 2002.
  • It’s an important test of Neuralink’s technology, but not a revolutionary piece of science.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This week, Neuralink, a company founded by Elon Musk that specialises in neural interface technology, unveiled a fairly astonishing example of its work.

In a video released Thursday, the company showed off how far its come testing its technology on primates. In the video, a macaque monkey named Pager, which Neuralink claims has had a chip implanted in his brain for six weeks, is able to play video games like Pong purely via the chip. Playing the games correctly meant Pager was rewarded with a sip of banana smoothie.

This is, objectively, pretty amazing. As Musk put it in an excited tweet on Thursday: “A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!!”

Perhaps even more amazing: monkeys have been playing video games with their minds for almost 20 years.

“Brain-control of computer cursors by monkeys is not new,” Professor Andrew Jackson of the University of Newcastle told Insider, adding that the first comparable demonstrations of technology like Neuralink’s took place in 2002.

A group of researchers in 2002 were able to show they could get a monkey to move a cursor on a computer screen at will, noting at the time that the technology could be used to help paralyzed people control screens in a similar way.

Jackson added the idea behind the technology dates back as far as the 1960s. In 1969, a researcher called Eberhard Fetz connected a needle on a meter to a single neuron in a monkey’s brain, and was able to train the monkey to move that needle using only its brain activity.

Neuralink, which was founded in 2016, is developing a microchip, which theoretically, would be implanted in a person’s skull, from which wires would fan out into their brain. These wires would be able to record brain activity, as well as stimulate areas of the brain.

The idea is that these chips could help study and treat neurological diseases and conditions in the near term. In the long term, Musk says they form part of his ideal of a “symbiosis” between human consciousness and AI (although experts have frequently expressed skepticism about this part).

Musk has been hyping up the monkey for years – but neuroscientists haven’t been that impressed

Musk first gave the world a hint about Neuralink’s tests on monkeys during a streamed presentation of the company’s designs in 2019.

“A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain, just FYI,” he said, appearing to take Neuralink president Max Kodak by surprise with the announcement. “The monkey’s going to come out of the bag,” Musk joked.

Andrew Hires, an assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of California, told Insider in 2019 that he was not surprised Neuralink had been able to achieve that result – and accurately predicted the kind of telepathic monkey computer-usage which Neuralink showed off in its video on Friday.

“The monkey is not surfing the internet. The monkey is probably moving a cursor to move a little ball to try to match a target,” Hires said. This pretty well exactly matches one of the games Pager was shown playing in the video released Thursday.

Musk started to hype up the monkey again earlier this year. “We’ve already got a monkey with a wireless implant in their skull … who can play video games using his mind,” he said during an interview on Clubhouse on January 31.

Musk is a canny marketer, and he’s very familiar with using his own peculiar brand of fame to merchandise and advertise his companies. It’s worth noting that at the end of the video with a call for people to apply for jobs at Neuralink – making for an ingenious recruitment strategy.

Neuralink is still doing new things, and the monkey is important

While neuroscientists have said the underlying science of getting a monkey to play video games with its mind is not revolutionary, they have praised the engineering of Neuralink’s wireless chip.

Speaking to Insider in September 2020 (following a presentation in which Neuralink showed off its technology working after being implanted in the brain of a pig) Professor Jackson said the development of any neural interface technology that doesn’t require wires to protrude out of the skin is a good thing, as it reduces the risk of infection.

“Just from a welfare aspect for the animals, I think if you can do experiments with something that doesn’t involve wires coming through the skin, that’s going to improve the welfare of animals,” he said, adding that further down the road it could have benefits for humans as well.

Elon Musk Neuralink pigsElon Musk showed off Neuralink’s tech in a pig in August 2020.

Neuralink YouTube

Responding to the video released on Thursday of Pager the monkey, Jackson said while it’s not earth-shattering, it is an important proof of concept.

“I certainly do not mean to criticise them for demonstrating something that has been done before. It is a sensible way to validate any new technology. If you invent a new telescope, it makes sense to first point it where you know what you will see. So they are following a very sensible route to validate their device,” Jackson said.

Rylie Green, a bioengineering researcher at Imperial College London, told Insider: “The best thing I can see from that video is that the macaque is freely moving. There’s also no visible package connected to it. I would say that is definitely progress – not super innovative but a nice positive step forward.”

This week, Neuralink, a company founded by Elon Musk that specialises in neural interface technology, unveiled a fairly astonishing example of its work.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/elon-musk-neuralink-not-first-scientists-monkey-control-computer-mind-2021-4-1030291418

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SES Government Solutions Provides Medium Earth Orbit Satellite Services for Combatant Command

SES Government Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SES, in close partnership with a key U.S. Government customer, designed, developed and f…

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SES Government Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SES, in close partnership with a key U.S. Government customer, designed, developed and fielded an O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) reachback capability to provide mission-critical communications for a key combatant command. The awarded task order for USD 11.8 million is against the single-award USD 516.7 million Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) for medium earth orbit (MEO) low-latency high-throughput satellite (HTS) services. This is the 15th task order awarded to SES GS on this BPA.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210516005061/en/

SES Government Solutions Provides Medium Earth Orbit Satellite Services for Combatant Command (Photo: Business Wire)

SES Government Solutions Provides Medium Earth Orbit Satellite Services for Combatant Command (Photo: Business Wire)

With this agreement, SES Government Solutions expands its high-throughput, low-latency services in support of mission-essential combatant command requirements, as the customer needs evolve, by providing innovative, flexible and secure communications solutions.

Using O3b services, U.S. Government customers can take advantage of the field-proven capabilities to support the provisioning of enterprise services to deployed warfighters. The solution leverages the MEO constellation by providing fiber-like connectivity to austere deployed locations.

“The Department of Defense has vast and expansive information at their fingertips,” said President and CEO of SES Government Solutions, Brigadier General Pete Hoene, USAF (retired). “Utilizing reachback technology gives our warfighters the information and support needed for mission success. By leveraging the O3b MEO constellation, deployed U.S. military personnel have access to near real-time decision-making intelligence at the tactical edge.”

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About SES Government Solutions

SES Government Solutions (SES GS) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SES, the leader in global content connectivity solutions. SES GS operates under a proxy board allowing them to provide services through contracts with the U.S. Government, including classified work. SES GS is exclusively focused on meeting the satellite communications needs of the U.S. Government. Leveraging more than four decades of experience in the government SATCOM market, SES GS offers robust and secure end-to-end satellite communications solutions. Further information can be found at www.ses-gs.com.

About SES

SES has a bold vision to deliver amazing experiences everywhere on earth by distributing the highest quality video content and providing seamless connectivity around the world. As the leader in global content connectivity solutions, SES operates the world’s only multi-orbit constellation of satellites with the unique combination of global coverage and high performance, including the commercially-proven, low-latency Medium Earth Orbit O3b system. By leveraging a vast and intelligent, cloud-enabled network, SES is able to deliver high-quality connectivity solutions anywhere on land, at sea or in the air, and is a trusted partner to the world’s leading telecommunications companies, mobile network operators, governments, connectivity and cloud service providers, broadcasters, video platform operators and content owners. SES’s video network carries over 8,200 channels and has an unparalleled reach of 361 million households, delivering managed media services for both linear and non-linear content. The company is listed on Paris and Luxembourg stock exchanges (Ticker: SESG). Further information is available at: www.ses.com.

Markets Insider and Business Insider Editorial Teams were not involved in the creation of this post.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/ses-government-solutions-provides-medium-earth-orbit-satellite-services-for-combatant-command-1030435088

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A 29-year-old crypto billionaire who’s made millions from digital-currency arbitrage shares 2 tips for investors looking to get started in trading- and explains why ether is unlikely to surpass…

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX and Alameda Research. FTX Sam Bankman-Fried became a billionaire through leveraging a cryptocurrency arb…

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Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX and Alameda ResearchSam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX and Alameda Research.

FTX

  • Sam Bankman-Fried became a billionaire through leveraging a cryptocurrency arbitrage strategy.
  • Bankman-Fried now runs a leading derivative cryptocurrency exchange, FTX.
  • He shares his tips for crypto trading and his outlook on bitcoin vs. ether.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sam Bankman-Fried is a cofounder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and a legend in the world of crypto trading.

His crypto arbitrage strategy netted him 10% daily returns on million-dollar crypto trades, helping him to accumulate a net worth that placed him on Forbes’ list of cryptocurrency billionaires at just 29 years old.

Although Bankman-Fried’s wealth provides him with more than enough money to retire comfortably on a faraway island, he instead dedicates his time to building the ultimate cryptocurrency exchange for traders.

His goal is to create an alternative to the “s—show exchanges” that existed when he was trading in 2017 and 2018, Bankman-Fried said in an interview with Insider.

“We thought the odds are pretty high that we would fail on the exchange because we thought we would just never get any users and that would be that, but it seemed high enough upside that it was worth going for anyway,” Bankman-Fried said.

Within two years, FTX went from relatively unknown to one of the top five derivative-trading exchanges, with more than $400 billion in monthly trading volume in April.

FTX changed the trading game by enabling the management of collateral through a single wallet. This meant traders could trade anything on FTX through one margin wallet, as long as they had enough collateral to meet their total position size.

“It’s one of the rare times that you find a change, which both simplifies the product and makes it more powerful,” Bankman-Fried said.

Some might assume that, by simplifying the collateralization process, FTX would face more risk when it comes to liquidations, a process that occurs when traders don’t have enough collateral to support their position.

Yet when a recent flash crash caused a 17% drop in the value of bitcoin and liquidations worth $9.3 billion on April 17, FTX fared better than most.

The platform is designed to discourage mass liquidations by limiting the size of the positions traders can put on with really high leverage and having an engine that liquidates only as much as it needs to, Bankman-Fried said.

Total liquidations graph from ByBtTotal liquidations graph from ByBt.

ByBt

Crypto trading tips

There is fierce competition from other traders in the cryptocurrency market, and breaking in is hard, Bankman-Fried said. “It’s not a super forgiving place to try and get into,” he said.

First, get to know the market by learning from the experts. Bankman-Fried spent several years learning his craft at the trading firm Jane Street.

Second, try to figure out what edge you have, such as great technology or a good instinct for the direction of the market, he said.

“I think one of the interesting things is the blurring line between trader and an investor in crypto,” Bankman-Fried said.

Bankman-Fried’s approach to trading is evolving. He has formed an appreciation for how great crypto investors have been able to operate in different market environments and is spending more time thinking about strategies that set him up well for future cycles, something he said he didn’t have great instincts for previously.

“Often, a lot of the upside is in the cases where the bull market stays. That’s where you should be focusing a lot of your thoughts because that’s where it matters the most what you do,” Bankman-Fried said. “But with the caveat that you have to make sure that you don’t f— yourself over if there’s a temporary bear market, that you don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t survive that.”

Bitcoin vs. ether

The most-traded cryptocurrency is bitcoin, which has a market capitalization near $1 trillion. In recent weeks, the Ethereum blockchain’s native currency, ether, has arguably made its case as a challenger to bitcoin, as the currency has surged more than 100% in price since the start of April with a market capitalization of $450 billion.

Bitcoin’s 93% gain so far this year has been dwarfed by ether’s 450% increase in that time. The Ethereum network houses a variety of decentralized finance applications, including nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which have been all the rage among artists and celebrities. The multiple uses of the network, plus the fact that its carbon footprint is considerably smaller than that of bitcoin, have burnished ether’s popularity.

Bankman-Fried said he would be surprised to see ether overtake bitcoin, considering bitcoin has the massive advantage of being the first and agreed-upon default cryptocurrency, which is worth a lot.

For all its diverse uses, Ethereum has its own issues, such as serious scaling challenges, which are going to hold it back, Bankman-Fried said.

“It’s hard for me to see ether displacing bitcoin, although I could be wrong there,” he said.

Sam Bankman-Fried is a cofounder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and a legend in the world of crypto trading.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/crypto-trading-tips-ethereum-outlook-young-billionaire-sam-bankman-fried-2021-5-1030415441

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Dogecoin plummets during Elon Musk’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ hosting gig as Robinhood experiences issues

Miley Cyrus was the musical guest on "SNL," while Elon Musk hosted. NBC/Getty Images The value of the cryptocurrency Dogecoin fell dur…

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Miley Cyrus Elon Musk SNLMiley Cyrus was the musical guest on “SNL,” while Elon Musk hosted.

NBC/Getty Images

  • The value of the cryptocurrency Dogecoin fell during Elon Musk’s episode of “Saturday Night Live.”
  • At the same time, Robinhood tweeted that its app was experiencing difficulties with trading.
  • Robinhood declined to comment on whether the difficulty was due to changes in trading during “SNL.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Dogecoin’s stock price fell during billionaire Elon Musk’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live” on May 9.

The cryptocurrency, which started as a joke in 2013 but recently gained popularity with Musk’s vocal support, fell to about $0.5 around 12:30 a.m. early Sunday morning, according to Coindesk, but the price steadily picked up as the show went on.

Musk touted Dogecoin during his appearance on the show’s “Weekend Update” sketch, saying the cryptocurrency would “take over the world” and calling himself the “Dogefather.”

At the same time, Robinhood, the multi-billion dollar stock trading app, said the platform was experiencing issues with crypto-trading.

“Update: We’re currently experiencing issues with crypto trading,” Robinhood tweeted during Musk’s performance. “We’re working to resolve this as soon as possible.”

-Robinhood Help (@AskRobinhood) May 9, 2021

Robinhood told Insider that the platform’s crypto-trading was “back up and running” about 30 minutes after it first reported difficulties. Robinhood declined to comment on whether the issues were tied to the “SNL” performance.

-Robinhood Help (@AskRobinhood) May 9, 2021

Dogecoin was originated in 2013 by IBM software engineer Billy Markus and Adobe software engineer Jackson Palmer.

This year, Dogecoin has had more than a 12,000% year-to-date rally, and spiked the week prior to Musk’s hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live.” The Reddit group Wall Street Bets, which cheered an unlikely rally of GameStop stock earlier this year, has also championed Dogecoin.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/dogecoin-drop-robinhood-down-elon-musk-snl-episode-2021-5-1030405331

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