Ex- Neuralink co-founder Max Hodak opens up his own rival company

  • Max Hodak, the ex-co-founder of Neuralink has opened up his own company, Science Corp after leaving the firm a year ago.
  • The firm has already produced and tested its first product “science eye” in rabbits.
  • Science Corp’s products have a distinct advantage over Neuralink due to their non-invasive nature. 

Since the past few months, global media is abuzz with yet more infamous antics of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk.

Ever since Musk managed to score his $44 billion deal to buy out Twitter in April this year, he has managed to plague the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether it be his backing out of the deal, or his last-moment acceptance before meeting Twitter’s lawyers in court this fall, Musk has been at the receiving end of the internet’s criticism.

And just when it seemed that the internet had had enough of him after he fired around 50 percent of Twitter’s global workforce, another major gut punch was delivered to him recently.

Among his assortment of companies is a BCI(brain-computer interface) firm named Neuralink. Now the news comes that Neuralink’s co-founder, ex-employee Max Hodak who had parted ways with the firm last year has launched his own rival company.

What is a BCI Company? 

A brain-computer interface company is essentially a firm that attempts the integration of technology and the biological system of the brain.

Neuralink, for example, launched a brain chip, called the “Link”, which is almost the size of a large coin. This chip is meant to be implanted inside one’s brain by a robotic surgeon and is meant to connect one’s brain to the digital world, starting with one’s very own smartphone.

According to Musk, as soon as the operation is successful and the time for recovery is completed, humans will gain the same powerful abilities as artificial intelligence(AI) bots such as Alexa or Siri. This means one will be able to surf a million websites in a matter of mere seconds.

Experts believe that by using the basic BCI(Brain-Computer interfaces), they can use electrodes to replicate the normal biological activity of neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. Musk went on to call the Link chip a “Fitbit for the brain”.

This will even allow patients suffering from paralysis to send texts and shop from websites or simply use an electronic gadget, just by thinking about it.

Scientists believe it can also cure patients suffering from various mental illnesses. Such chips can help in reducing triggering impulses produced by the brain which cause anxiety and depression while also being able to tackle autism. Also, the electrodes of this chip can help in firing non-functioning neurons of the brain which can help a patient with dementia regain even lost memories.

Furthermore, Musk believes Neuralink will be successful in treating morbid obesity. Morbid obesity is a condition characterized by having a body mass index(BMI) greater than 30.

Hodak’s Science Corp 

Now a year after parting ways with Neuralink, Max Hodak, the ex- Co-founder of the firm has started his own BCI company named Science Corp.

However, the firm stands different from Neuralink as it does not wish to drill holes in people’s skulls to implant a chip. The BCI technology of this firm relies on the science of photonics which uses light sent through a patient’s optic nerve to transmit information.

Hodak claims that his company has already successfully tested out a prototype product called “Science Eye” which is dubbed to be capable of treating vision loss in test rabbits. That prototype uses a 2-millimeter-wide thin LED film implanted on top of a rabbit’s retina capable of processing patterns sent to it wirelessly.

Hodak believed his firm’s therapeutic goals might be the same as Neuralink making them a rival firm, however his products have a distinct advantage over them. He said his firm will start introducing products to very disabled patient populations with serious unmet needs.

Hodak believed if his firm can refine that technology for five or six generations, they can attempt to replace glasses and virtual reality goggles with just the tiny little implant in the eye.

The obstacles for BCI companies 

The major obstacle for both Neuralink and Science Corp is the ethicality of their experiments. While both firms have tested their products on a wide variety of animals, human testing seems like a distant dream.

Musk’s Neuralink gave the world a taste of the brain implant in a live-streamed event back in 2021 called “Pigs in the Matrix.” On a giant screen, a real-time video of neurons firing in a test pig subject was played followed by a ringtone of the electrical activity in their brain.

After the event Musk promised that soon human testing would begin at the firm. That conversation remains a distant dream as so far the firm has failed to gain FDA approval to test its device in humans.

Moreover, with regard to experiments being conducted on animals, many animal support groups have raised their voices in protest. With the extent of some groups characterizing these experiments as cruel, or in some alleged cases, gruesomely horrific.

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