It does not take an infinite number of monkeys to type a passage of Shakespeare. Instead, it takes a single monkey equipped with brain-sensing technology - and a cheat sheet. That technology, developed by Stanford Bio-X scientists Krishna Shenoy, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, and postdoctoral fellow Paul Nuyujukian, directly reads brain signals to drive a cursor moving over a keyboard. In an experiment conducted with monkeys, the animals were able to transcribe passages from the New York Times and Hamlet at a rate of up to 12 words per minute. Earlier versions of the technology have already been tested successfully in people with paralysis, but the typing was slow and imprecise.
"To be or not to be. That is also the text that Monkey J typed out using a brain implant to control a computer cursor. To be clear, the monkey didn't know it was copying Shakespeare, and it had no deep thoughts about Hamlet's famous monologue. Monkey J and its colleague, Monkey L, were both trained to use their neural implants to move a cursor over a computer screen, hitting circles as they turned green. Stanford University researchers placed letters on those targets to simulate the typing task.
It is often said that, given an infinite amount of time, monkeys hitting random keys on a typewriter will eventually type the works of Shakespeare. While it may seem far fetched, an unusual experiment has achieved the fabled task. To illustrate how paralysed people can type using a device called a'brain-computer interface', scientists used monkeys to show how it can be done. Two rhesus macaque monkeys (stock picture left) had electrodes implanted in part of the brain that controls hand movement. As a result, they were able to type a passage from William Shakespeare's Hamlet The technology uses a multi-electrode array implanted in the brain to directly read signals from a region that directs hand and arm movements used to move a computer mouse.
Researchers have developed a new interface that allows people with paralysis to communicate faster than ever through brain-controlled typing. The system uses tiny electrode implants, each roughly the size of a baby aspirin, to move an on-screen cursor when a person imagines their own hand movements. According to the Stanford-led team, the system marks a'major milestone' in efforts to improve life for those with severe limb weakness and paralysis, including people with ALS and spinal cord injuries. Researchers have developed a new interface that allows people with paralysis to communicate faster than ever through brain-controlled typing. In the new study, the Stanford-led team used an intracortical brain-computer interface called the BrainGate Neural Interface System.
From time to time, the Singularity Hub editorial team unearths a gem from the archives and wants to share it all over again. It's usually a piece that was popular back then and we think is still relevant now. This is one of those articles. It was originally published October 25th, 2015. We hope you enjoy it!