Neuralink cofounder Max Hodak leaves Elon Musk’s brain implant company

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and chief executive officer of Tesla, waves 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 on Saturday via Twitter that he is no longer with the health tech company he founded together with Elon Musk and has not been for a few weeks. He did not disclose the circumstances of his departure.

Neuralink, headquartered in Fremont, California, is developing “ultra-high-bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect people and computers,” according to the company’s self-description on LinkedIn.

Musk, who is also CEO of electric car maker Tesla and aerospace defense company SpaceX, said without providing evidence that Neuralink’s devices could enable “superhuman perception” and enable paralyzed people to use their smartphones or robotic limbs to operate heads one day and “resolve” autism and schizophrenia.

Neuralink was founded in 2016 and invests tens of millions of his significant personal wealth. Neuralink is also developing surgical robotics to implant its devices. Essentially, tiny wires about a quarter the diameter of a human hair are sewn to connect the implants to the brain.

Skeptics abound.

Musk described the surgery to insert a Neuralink device as less than an hour.

Neuralink demo

Following the August 2020 demo, MIT Technology Review viewed Neuralink in a devastating rendition of the presentation as “neuroscientific theater”.

Musk doesn’t have a background in neuroscience or medical devices, but according to a project leader at Neuralink quoted by the New York Times in 2019, he has “actively sought to solve the technical challenges Neuralink is facing”.

On the medical news site StatNews, a neuroethicist and doctor named Anna Wexler wrote in a comment on April 7, 2021:

“In this new world of private neurotech development, corporate demos are streamed live on YouTube and have a taste of techno-optimism that includes proclamations about a future we haven’t seen yet – but one that we’re sure we will Data is sparse; rhetoric about making the world a better place is difficult. “

The next day, in a series of tweets without providing evidence, Musk wrote:

“With the first @Neuralink product, someone with paralysis can use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone who uses their thumbs

“Later versions will be able to route signals from neural links in the brain to neural links in motor / sensory neuron clusters in the body, enabling paraplegics, for example, to walk again

The device is wirelessly implanted flush with the skull and charged so that you look and feel completely normal. “

On Saturday, Hodak was not immediately available for comment.

For Musk, Saturday was undoubtedly a day when he needed to focus more on his aerospace company, SpaceX. After 167 days in space, astronauts began their return flight home on a manned SpaceX and NASA mission, with a “splashdown” expected around 2:57

One of Hodak’s followers on Twitter asked him what was coming next and he replied, “Not Jurassic Park.” The joke was a reference to an earlier fantastic discussion on the microblogging platform in which Hodak thought, “We could probably build a Jurassic Park if we wanted. Wouldn’t be a genetically authentic dinosaur, but maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering.” Get super exotic novel species. “

Neuralink is one of many medical technology companies working on so-called “brain-machine interfaces”.

Competitors include developers of implants and non-invasive devices such as headsets. These include Kernel, Synchron, Neurable and even Facebook in the USA, CereGate in Germany and Mindmaze in Switzerland.

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