Monkeys can now control robots with their minds

It begins.

While the very idea of being governed by our machines machines is more than terrifying enough, there's something to be said about the notion of being subjugated by our primal cousins as well.

Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroprosthetics researcher at Duke University, has been working with a rhesus monkey named Aurora since the early 2000s. The idea was simple: Aurora was given a simple video game to work with. The objective was to move her cursor over the target when it appeared. If she succeeded, she would then be rewarded with a drop of orange juice.

Needless to say, she performed as expected, and as she continued playing the game, researchers went on to download her neural signals. After a certain amount of work, the researchers were then able to, as Nicolelis explained to the Scientific American, translate those signals into digital commands that were then used by a robotic arm to generate movements in accordance to Aurora's thoughts.

Cool as all that may sound, here's the niftiest bit: Aurora eventually learned that she did not need to move any of physical limbs and began treating her new arm as a third limb.

Nicolelies described his experiment in a TED Talk, which is worth checking out if you want to learn more. It's certainly an exciting idea in regards to how this may influence the creation of prosthetic but I can't be the only one with visions of chimpanzee-driven mechas, can I?

[TED, Scientific American via The Verge]

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