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Neuralink co-founder Max Hodak leaves Elon Musk’s brain implant company

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, waves as he arrives for a discussion at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, DC, on Monday, March 9, 2020.

Andrew Harer Bloomberg | Getty Images

Neuralink President Max Hodak announced on Twitter on Saturday that he was no longer with the health technology company, which he co-founded with Elon Musk, and had not been for several weeks. He did not disclose the circumstances of his departure.

Based in Fremont, California, Neuralink is “developing brain-machine interfaces with ultra-high bandwidth 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 contractor SpaceX, said without showing evidence that it was possible that Neuralink devices could allow “superhuman knowledge” to allow paralyzed people. to work with smartphones or robotic limbs with their minds one day and “solve” autism and schizophrenia.

Founded in 2016, with Musk investing tens of millions of his personal wealth, Neuralink is also developing surgical robotics to implant its devices, essentially suturing small wires about a quarter of the diameter of a human hair to connect the implants to the brain.

Skeptics abound.

Musk described the Neuralink placement as taking less than an hour.

Neuralink demo

Following the August 2020 demonstration, the MIT Technology Review described Neuralink as a “neuroscience theater” in a scathing disruption to the presentation.

Musk has no experience in neurology or medical devices, but according to the project director at Neuralink, quoted by The New York Times in 2019, he was “active in trying to help solve the engineering challenges facing Neuralink.”

On the medical news site StatNews, a neuro-ethicist and doctor named Anna Wexler wrote in an article on April 7, 2021:

“In this new world of private neurotechnology development, company demonstrations are broadcast live on YouTube and have a taste for technological optimism, which includes proclamations for the future, which we have yet to see – but one we are sure will come true. Data is scarce; the rhetoric of making the world a better place is heavy. “

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

“The first @Neuralink product will allow someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than one who uses their thumbs

“Later versions will be able to redirect signals from the neuralins in the brain to the neuralins in the clusters of the body’s motor / sensory neuron, thus allowing, for example, paraplegics to walk again.

The device is implanted at the level of the skull and is charged wirelessly so that you look and feel completely normal. “

Hodak was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

For Musk, Saturday was a day that undoubtedly required more attention to his space venture SpaceX. After 167 days in space, crew astronauts, a SpaceX mission and NASA began their return flight with a “splash” expected around 2:57 p.m.

One of Hodak’s followers on Twitter asked him what was next, and he replied, “Not Jurassic Park.” Quip was a reference to a previous fantastic discussion on the micro-blogging platform, in which Hodak reflects: “We could probably build a 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 many medical medical companies working on the so-called “brain-machine interface”.

Competitors include those who develop implants and non-invasive devices such as headphones. These include Kernel, Synchron, Neurable and even Facebook in the US, CereGate in Germany and Mindmaze in Switzerland.

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