How Max Hodak began to compete with Elon Musk in the neurochip market

Max Hodak is one of the co-founders of Neuralink. Elon Musk launched this startup fascinated by the idea that a computer can be controlled by the power of thought, using an implant built into the brain. First of all, it will be useful in medicine. Musk promises that even people with quadriplegia (partial or complete paralysis of all four limbs) will be able to work on a computer and type text on a smartphone faster than the average user with their thumbs. Electrodes in the brain will make it possible to control prostheses, not only to walk and move hands, but also to feel touch. Neuralink will cure Parkinson’s disease and even, as Musk assured in 2019 on Lex Friedman’s Artificial Intelligence podcast, it will cure autism and schizophrenia. The latter, however, causes skepticism among scientists: autism is not considered a disease, but a developmental disorder, and schizophrenia is considered a mental disorder. They are unlikely to be cured by a device that reads brain signals.

On Friedman’s podcast, Musk joked that Neuralink’s job is to mitigate the risks associated with the advent of artificial intelligence: “We can’t be smarter than a supercomputer, but if you can’t beat it, you should join it.” Chip implantation in healthy people looks very attractive, at least from a commercial point of view. Musk assured that people would be able to use the power of thought not only to call their car to the entrance, but even to save and reproduce memories again as if in reality. Surely there are many willing to pay for such abilities.

Scientists polled by Fortune magazine are skeptical: all this is a matter of a very distant future. The equipment developed by the startup Musk and his competitors reads a very limited amount of information from the brain. And so far, no one understands how to send complex images to the brain using electrical stimulation. Although scientists already know how to make you feel touched, cause guilt or vivid hallucinations.

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