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, D.C., on Monday, March 9, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty images
Neuralink president Max Hodak announced on Twitter on Saturday that he is no longer part of the health tech company he founded with Elon Musk, and that he has not been around for a few weeks. He did not disclose the circumstances of his departure.
Fremont, California-based Neuralink “develops ultra-high-bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect people and computers,” the company’s self-description on LinkedIn said.
Musk – who is also the CEO of electric car makers Tesla and space defense contractor SpaceX – has said, without showing evidence that this is possible, that Neuralink’s devices could enable ‘superhuman cognition’, allowing paralyzed people to operate smartphones or robotic limbs. with their minds ever, and “solve” autism and schizophrenia.
Founded in 2016, with Musk investing tens of millions of his considerable personal wealth, Neuralink is also developing surgical robotics to implant his devices, basically sewing tiny threads about a quarter the diameter of a human hair around the implants with the brain.
Musk described the surgery to insert a Neuralink device as less than an hour.
After the August 2020 demo, MIT Technology Review viewed Neuralink as “neuroscience theater,” in a devastating destruction of the presentation.
Musk has no background in neuroscience or medical devices, but has been “active in helping solve the technical challenges Neuralink faces,” according to a project director at Neuralink, quoted by The New York Times in 2019.
In the medical news site StatNews, a neuroethicist and physician named Anna Wexler wrote in an op-ed on April 7, 2021:
“In this new world of private neurotech development, corporate demonstrations are live-streamed on YouTube and have a taste of techno-optimism with announcements about a future that we have yet to see but are sure will happen. about making the world a better place is tough. “
The next day, Musk wrote in a series of tweets, again without providing evidence:
“With the first @ Neuralink product, someone with paralysis can use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs
Later versions will be able to redirect signals from Neuralinks in the brain to Neuralinks in motor / sensory neuron clusters of the body, allowing for example paraplegics to walk again.
The device is implanted flush with the skull and charges wirelessly, so you look and feel completely normal “
On Saturday, Hodak was not immediately available for comment.
For Musk, Saturday was undoubtedly a day that drew more attention to his space company SpaceX. After 167 days in space, astronauts on a manned, SpaceX and NASA mission began their return flight home, with a “splashdown” expected around 2:57 am.
One of Hodak’s followers on Twitter asked him what’s next and he replied, “Not Jurassic Park.” The joke was a reference to a previous fantastic discussion on the microblogging platform in which Hodak mused, “We could probably build Jurassic Park if we wanted to. They wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs, but maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic. new species. “
Neuralink is one of the many medical technology companies working on so-called “brain-machine interfaces”.
Competitors include those developing implants and non-invasive devices such as headsets. Among them are Kernel, Synchron, Neurable, and even Facebook in the US, CereGate in Germany, and Mindmaze in Switzerland.