SCIENTISTS in China have made a breakthrough in 'Frankenstein' brain chip technology, with the aim of letting people control machines with their mind.
For now though, the technology has only been tested on monkeys – a something which has received uproar from onlookers.
The concept of telepathic apes – and telepathic people – seems likes it has been stripped out of a sci-fi novel.
But on May 4, a team of researchers in Beijing successfully trialled an 'interventional brain-computer interface' – or brain chip – in a primate.
The chip was placed inside the monkey's motor cortex brain area, which allowed it to move a robotic arm with its mind.
The team, led by Professor Duan Feng of Nankai University, said the successful study was "of great significance" in the field of brain science.
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The chip can convert brain signals, known as EEG, into control instructions in machines.
The trial was jointly completed with the General Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Shanghai Xinwei Medical Technology company.
Scientists hope this technology will eventually help patients with motor dysfunction, following a stroke or ALS diagnosis for example.
The aim is to let physically impaired humas interact with external devices to improve their quality of life.
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And they're not alone.
Elon Musk's Neuralink, which is also testing brain chips in monkeys, has promised its technology will eventually allow people with paralysis to walk again.
But Musk's company has received widespread criticism over animal cruelty after experiments allegedly left 15 out of 23 monkeys dead and reports that one chewed its own fingers off.
Animal rights groups, alongside the public, have been calling for Musk's Neuralink and others to be stopped.
Chinese researchers claim that they have found a way for their monkeys to avoid the same fate as the ones at Neuralink.
They found – unsurprisingly – that invasive surgery to install a computer chip into a monkeys brain was "traumatic" but that "non-invasive" options didn't work as well.
"During the research process of this technology, it was found that the invasive brain-computer interface is traumatic," the team wrote in its announcement.
"For example, many test monkeys of the invasive brain-computer interface of Musk’s Neuralink company in the United States have died; non-invasive brain-computer interfaces are susceptible to brain volume conductor effects, EEG signal long-term stability is poor."
Instead, Professor Duan Feng's team attached the chip to the wall of a monkey's brain vessels so they could collect brain signals withoutcraniotomy – the surgical removal of a portion of the skull.
Although Chinese researchers claim they've discovered a more 'humane' way to insert brain chips, others aren't convinced.
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"STOP THESE MANIACAL FRANKENSTEIN EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS!!," one person wrote on Twitter in response to the news.
"If progress means treating animals like this, I'm ok with where we are," said another.
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