Neuralink Co-Founder Max Hodak Leaves Elon Musk’s Brain Implant Company
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, greets as he arrives for a discussion at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, DC on Monday, March 9, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Neuralink President Max Hodak announced via Twitter on Saturday that he was no longer with the healthcare tech company he co-founded with Elon Musk for the past few weeks. He did not disclose the circumstances of his departure.
Neuralink, based in Fremont, Calif., “Is developing very high-speed brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers,” according to the company’s self-description on LinkedIn.
Musk – who is also the CEO of electric carmakers Tesla and aerospace defense contractor SpaceX – said, without showing that it was possible, that Neuralink’s devices could enable “superhuman cognition,” enabling paralyzed people. to use smartphones or robotic limbs with their minds someday, and “solve” autism and schizophrenia.
Founded in 2016, with Musk investing tens of millions of his significant personal wealth, Neuralink is also developing surgical robotics to implant its devices, essentially sewing tiny threads about a quarter the diameter of a human hair to connect implants to the brain.
Musk described the surgery to insert a Neuralink device as taking less than an hour.
After the August 2020 demo, the MIT Technology Review judged Neuralink “neuroscience theater, “in a scathing teardown of the presentation.
Musk has no background in neuroscience or medical devices but, according to a Neuralink project director quoted by The New York Times in 2019, he has been “active in trying to help solve the engineering challenges that Neuralink is facing ”.
In the StatNews medical news site, a neuroethicist and physician named Anna Wexler wrote in an editorial on April 7, 2021:
“In this new world of private neurotech development, company demos are streamed live on YouTube and have the flavor of techno-optimism that involves proclamations about a future we haven’t yet seen – but which we we are assured that it will come true. Data is scarce; the rhetoric to make the world a better place is heavy. “
The next day, Musk wrote in a series of tweets, still without providing any evidence:
“First @Neuralink the product will allow a paralyzed person to use a smartphone with their mind faster than a person using their thumbs
“Later versions will be able to derive signals from Neuralinks from the brain to Neuralinks from the motor / sensory groups of the body, allowing, for example, paraplegics to walk again.
The device is implanted flush with the head and charges wirelessly, so you look and feel totally normal “
On Saturday, Hodak was not immediately available for comment.
For Musk, Saturday was undoubtedly a day that undoubtedly demanded more focus on his aerospace company, SpaceX. After 167 days in space, the astronauts on a crewed mission, SpaceX and NASA began their return flight, with a “splashdown” expected around 2:57 am.
One of Hodak’s Twitter followers asked him what to do next and he replied, “Not Jurassic Park.” The joke referred to an earlier fantastic discussion on the microblogging platform in which Thought hodak: “We could probably build a Jurassic Park if we wanted to. It wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs but. Maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get some new, super-exotic species.”
Neuralink is one of many medical technology companies working on what are known as “brain-machine interfaces”.
Competitors include those who develop implants and non-invasive devices like helmets. Among them, Kernel, Synchron, Neurable and even Facebook in the United States, CereGate in Germany and Mindmaze in Switzerland.