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This New Movie Has A Pro Gamer Driven To Insanity By An AI Brain Device — And It’s More Realistic Than You Think

1 month ago 35



The unbelievable gaming tech in this movie might be too close for comfort.

Some news from the future: It turns out there's now a piece of tech called an Omnia, which basically reads your mind and makes you unbeatable at video games and lets you control electronic devices with only your mind, and oh, it also makes completely lose touch of time, physical space, and the fabric of reality itself — kind of traps you in a state of psychosis that you can't escape no matter how hard you try. Isn't technology fun?

Close-up of an intense-looking woman with long hair and blue eyes from a scene in a TV show or movie

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OK, fine — that’s not real, it’s from a movie that just came out. But it isn't as far-fetched as you might hope.

The image contains the word "LATENCY" displayed prominently on a textured background featuring subtly stacked squares

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Latency, which launched today in select theaters, stars Sasha Luss as Hana, a pro gamer with agoraphobia (extreme fear of the outside world), who receives a weird brain device that kind of destroys her life.

A woman in a stylish white suit with a blazer draped over her shoulders is posing in front of a red background at an event

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The film also stars Alexis Ren as Jen, Hana's attentive bestie.

Woman on a red carpet in a red dress with spaghetti straps, wearing drop earrings and red lipstick

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The device attaches to the back of Hana's head and basically learns to read her mind, allowing her to mess with Jen's phone or play video games with her thoughts alone. Absurd, huh?

A woman with long hair wears a white, head-mounted wearable device with a light on the side. She is looking down and to her right

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Absurd, yeah, until you learn this telekinetic tech is very, very real.

Here's an example. To get the device working in the movie, Hana has to do 11 "calibration" exercises so that the device can, in effect, learn how she thinks. One of Elon Musk's companies, Neuralink, does this very thing — with pretty mind-blowing results.

A holographic brain with neural connections is displayed behind a hand holding a phone displaying the Neuralink logo

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Neuralink just planted a chip in the skull of a human for the first time ever. Noland Arbaugh, a 29-year-old from Arizona, was paralyzed from the neck down in a freak diving accident. Yet now, thanks to Neuralink, he can do many things he couldn’t before.

Twitter: @neuralink

In addition to chess, Noland has been playing Civilization VI, a popular turn-based strategy game, and even Mario Kart, a much faster game, with only his mind, which shows the staggering capabilities of this tech.

He can now type messages, navigate his computer, surf the web, and play video games like Hana in Latency. All with his mind. Like a Jedi!

Woman saying, "Let the games begin," in a TV show scene

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But how can a chip turn thoughts into actions? Glad you asked — here's how it works, using Neuralink's macaque monkey, Pager, as a case study:

A close-up image of a snow monkey with reddish skin around its eyes and mouth, looking directly at the camera

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Neuralink released a video more than three years ago of Pager playing Pong (someone trademark that) entirely with his mind.

A monkey is using a joystick to interact with a computer screen displaying a simple game. The background shows a forest scene

Now bear with me: The chip in Pager's head takes electrical signals from his brain when his brain performs an action — for example, when he moves a cursor on a screen. Pager is incentivized to do this with a banana smoothie:

A monkey sits on grass, holding and drinking from a baby bottle, with another bottle next to it

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These brain signals are run through a computer, which allows the computer to learn Pager's brain patterns. Some neurons become more active when he moves the joystick left, and others when it moves it right, and so on. 

The computer soon learns which neurons are used for which movements, meaning it knows where Pager wants to move the cursor in the game before he performs the action.

Omnia is basically that computer. In Latency, Hana has to do 11 'calibration' exercises so the device can learn how she thinks. That's kind of what Neuralink did with Pager. (Minus the you-must-self-inflict-pain-with-a-knife-now part Hana does.)

If the computer gets good enough and has enough brain data, it no longer needs the physical input of the joystick. This is exactly what we see in the video: Pager plays a matching game with the joystick first, but it is soon unplugged:

A monkey is perched on a tree branch, reaching out with curiosity to a smartphone attached to a selfie stick

Bruno_il_segretario / Getty Images

Then Pager Plays Pong™, and there isn't even a joystick in sight. It's just a monkey. Playing Pong. With his mind. The future is like, totally here.

So you're telling me the tech in this movie is real?

Pretty much. Sure, parts of it are exaggerated, like when Omnia hacks Hana's whole ass apartment just to say hello (this is definitely possible, but also very suable). But the primary function of the tech? Yeah, that's already here. 

Could a device like Omnia make me lose track of reality too?

I mean, no. The part where it warps Hana's mind and leads her to [SPOILERS REDACTED]? Nah, that hasn't happened in real life. Yet. *Gulps*

Admittedly, we know nothing about the long-term side effects of this tech on actual people. In fact, risks include infection, bleeding, headaches, mood changes, and even hacking of the brain chip. So I guess it's…possible?

Person with long hair, wearing jeans and sneakers, sits on the floor against a locked door in a dimly lit hallway, appearing distressed

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I wouldn't worry if I were you. If a mysterious tech company sends you a brain-computer interface to play around with, try it. I just hope that if things get hairy, you have an easier time disconnecting than Hana did…

A woman with long hair appears distressed, eyes closed, and mouth slightly open. The image captures an intense, emotional moment

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