Neuralink President and co-founder Max Hodak announced on Saturday, via Twitter, that he is no longer with the firm and that he has not been for a few weeks. He did not, however, specify his reasons for leaving.
✨Some personal news:✨ I am no longer at Neuralink (as of a few weeks ago). I learned a ton there and remain a huge cheerleader for the company! Onward to new things.— Max Hodak (@max_hodak) May 1, 2021
Neuralink, a company co-founded by Elon Musk in 2016, is exploring the human brain and how it can be connected to a computer interface. It is a conceptual startup that aims to use a brain-machine interface to integrate humans with artificial intelligence by surgically implanting processors into people's brains with a procedure that is said to be no more invasive than LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) surgery.
The advantages of this procedure are many. As stated in a Neuralink published paper, “Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) hold promise for the restoration of sensory and motor function and the treatment of neurological disorders.” But this project has not been without controversy.
Controversy around Neuralink
Back in August of 2020, MIT called Musk's new pet project a "neuroscience theater." Claiming "none of these advances are close at hand, and some are unlikely to ever come about," stated MIT, adding that: "there is as yet nothing that anyone can buy or use from Neuralink."
The article even claimed that Musk was being dodgy about the firm's timelines and goals. "Musk deftly avoided giving timelines or committing to schedules on questions such as when Neuralink’s system might be tested in human subjects," wrote MIT in its scathing review, adding that: "As yet, four years after its formation, Neuralink has provided no evidence that it can (or has even tried to) treat depression, insomnia, or a dozen other diseases that Musk mentioned in a slide."
The article went on to denote that just developing microwires that can survive the brain's corrosive environment could take years. The question then becomes: Is this why Hodak jumped ship? Was the company not progressing fast enough for the executive?
Did Hodak perhaps believe that Musk was deceiving the public with his ambitious plans? Indeed in his many demos on the firm, Musk has made some quite outlandish claims and yet Neuralink has yet to produce any results.
We may never know the reasons why Hodak left but time will tell whether Neuralink achieves its ambitious targets.