Elon Musk's Neuralink, the enterprise that is developing brain-computer interface technology to connect the minds of people to computers, released a video of a monkey playing Pong last week that wowed the millions who saw it — but a pioneer in the field has a different point of view.
Andrew Schwartz, a pioneer in the field of brain-computer interfaces, summed up the video last week this way: “The performance is very rudimentary.”
We have more on that story below, plus mind-expanding reports of possible biosignatures in the clouds of Venus, and a new study on the six types of individual screams we humans emit. Our final report makes an educated guess as to when Starlink satellite internet — another of Musk’s enterprises — may go fully operational.
And at the very bottom, we celebrate the birthday of an icon of sci-fi TV. I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief of Inverse. Let’s dive into this humpday edition of Inverse Daily.
This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for April 14, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.
Neuralink monkey video is “rudimentary” — Elon Musk's brain-computer interface company has reached a new milestone in its quest to develop Neuralink for use in humans. But a BCI pioneer is disappointed with the results so far, writes Claire Cameron:
In a sensational video released last week, a monkey implanted with Neuralink brain-computer interface chips played a bootleg version of the video game Pong — using only its mind.
The video is proof of company CEO Elon Musk’s claim, made in February via Clubhouse, that a monkey with the device implanted in its brain could play a video game without touching a controller, joystick, or screen.
Hailed as a technological marvel by some, the video of the new demo may just be Act Two of what others have dubbed “neuroscience theatre.”
“The performance is very rudimentary,” Andrew Schwartz, a pioneer in the field of brain-computer interfaces, tells Inverse.
More on Neuralink from Inverse:
- Neuralink: 3 neuroscientists react to Elon Musk’s brain chip reveal (Sept. 2020)
- Neuralink: Meet your new robot brain (podcast from Dec. 2020)
- Neuralink: Elon Musk reveals monkey can mind-control video games (Feb. 2021)
Does Venus have life ? — A recently published study confirms the detection of phosphine in Venus' atmosphere, but does it hold clues to the planet's habitability? Scientists are torn over this question, writes Passant Rabie:
The debate over the habitability of Venus continues to burn as hot as the planet’s scorching temperatures.
Astronomers have found signs of phosphine and other chemicals in the clouds of Venus while digging through old data from NASA’s Pioneer Venus Multiprobe, which launched in 1978.
What these new findings could answer, however unlikely, is the question in astronomy: Does life exist off Earth?
More on Venus from Inverse:
- Gas in Venus's atmosphere “very encouraging for the hypothesis of life”
- Could this rocket go to Venus? Rocket Lab sure hopes so
- Venus map with water: stunning terraforming image shows alternative to Mars
The six human screams — There are six types of human screams, according to a new study reported on by Katie MacBride:
If you think we scream to express fear or aggression, you’re not alone. It was seemingly on the mind of Edvard Munch when he painted the most famous work of art about screaming, “The Scream.” That guy definitely doesn’t look happy.
And in a new study, researchers at the University of Zurich classify the different types of screams humans can perceive in other humans. The results, published Tuesday in PLOS Biology, offer a surprising find: Humans produce six different types of recognizable screams.
More on screaming:
- What happens to your brain when you scream?
- Psychologist Harold Gouzoules on what we know about screaming (not much)
- And just for fun: 5 reasons why Scream 2 is the best movie sequel ever
When will Starlink be available globally? — SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell recently provided more details about when Starlink will cover the globe, and Mike Brown has some valuable context about the satellite internet venture:
Starlink is set to go worldwide sooner or later. SpaceX’s internet connectivity constellation promises high speed and low latency internet almost anywhere with a view of the sky, powered by a large number of satellites orbiting closer to the Earth than competing constellations.
Following a recent announcement, we did a little digging, and it turns out Starlink may reach its ambitious global coverage goals this summer.
More on Starlink:
- SpaceX Starlink beta impressions: what a cybersecurity expert thinks
- SpaceX Starlink: Elon Musk reveals launch schedule and speed boosts
- Document reveals SpaceX Starlink features
That wraps up this Wednesday edition of Inverse Daily. I would like to thank you for reading so loyally! You can follow me on Twitter at @nicklucchesi, where I share some of my favorite stories from Inverse every day.
One more thing ... Happy birthday, Sarah Michelle Gellar. The actress, born on this day in 1977, has been on-screen for most of her life, but her role as Buffy Summers in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series from 1997 to 2003 cemented her status as an icon in science fiction television. Over the course of seven seasons and 144 episodes, Gellar staked dozens and dozens of demons and vampires while navigating the turbulence that comes with high school and the years after.
Her performances made her a role model for countless young people. And unlike other performers who were associated very closely with famous roles and shunned them, Gellar owns her Buffy status, even posting about the character on her Instagram account.
Gellar posted about the fictional Buffy’s birthday in January with this caption: “Just realized that today is Buffy Summers 40 bday. I can’t even believe that. She taught that the the hardest thing in the world is to live in it. So in her honor let’s all be brave. Live. This may not be the way we are used to living our lives, but let’s find the beauty. So we can all live long and safely.”
Buffy’s legacy might be this great piece of advice, delivered memorably by Gellar, for living in the moment while being ready for anything: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”