China Shows Off Monkey With Brain Chip Allowing It to Control Robotic Arm

A Chinese company says it's successfully developed a brain chip and implanted it into a monkey — who can now remotely control a robot arm with the device.

That's according to state-run news media outfit Xinhua, putting Elon Musk's startup Neuralink on notice that there will be international as well as domestic competition for his brain-computer interface venture.

The company, Beijing Xinzhida Neurotechnology, which is backed by the Chinese government, unveiled its device, the NeuCyber Array BMI (brain-machine interface) System at a technology convention in Beijing on Thursday, according to Reuters.

In a presentation photo at the convention, taken by Xinhua, the company displayed at their booth filmed footage showing the implant in action: a monkey is seen strapped inside a plexiglass enclosure with soft wires leading to its brain.

The video captures the monkey seated in front of a robot arm inside a white lab room, Xinhua reports, seemingly using it to pick up a strawberry.

At the same convention booth on Thursday, the company also displayed the same experimental setup, but used a stuffed monkey toy in place of the live animal, softening what looks like — let’s be honest — a scary torture device straight out of a science fiction horror movie.

"In short, the technology captures the subtle changes of electrical signals from neurons and decodes the brain's intentions, to realize 'thoughts' control 'actions'," Chinese Institute for Brain Research director Luo Minmin, whose employer co-developed the implant, told Xinhua.

Neuralink has already implanted a chip inside a human test subject, 29-year-old quadriplegic patient named Noland Arbaugh. Arbaugh was able to play Mario Kart using the implant during a filmed video demonstration, showing the power and potential of the tech.

But the road to Neuralink's brain chip has been bloody. Test monkeys subjected to Neuralink implants suffered and died, according to gruesome testimony from former employees.

There's also been drama stateside about the federal government apparently failing to inspect Neuralink's facilities before granting permission to implant the device inside a human being, drawing concern from lawmakers.

If Neuralink has had problems with test animals dying and has skirted around government officials to get the implant ready for humans, we can only imagine what this Chinese company might have done in its quest for a brain chip device.

More on brain chip implants: Elon Musk Compares Neuralink to "A 'Black Mirror' Episode"