June 3, 2024 at 3:33 pm

Cofounder Of Neuralink Quits Over Safety Concerns And Starts A New Company Called Precision

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

Elon Musk has had nothing but good things to say about the successes of his Neuralink chip, which is his company’s brain-computer interface.

Detractors have claimed there’s very little transparency and safety concerns, based on the outcomes of several animal trials.

Now, the cofounder of the company is saying that concerns over safety is why he left.

Dr. Benjamin Rapoport is a neurosurgeon, and joined up with Musk in 2016 when they founded Neuralink.

He left after only a few years and started his own brain-computer interface startup, called Precision Neuroscience.

This is what he said while speaking to the Wall Street Journal.

“I’ve pretty much devoted my entire professional life to bringing neural interfaces from the world of science to the world of medicine. But I felt that in order to move the world of medicine and technology, safety is paramount.”

Source: Shutterstock

He indicated there were some serious disagreements at Neuralink when it came to the invasiveness of the project.

“For a medical device, safety often implies minimal invasiveness. And in the early days of brain-computer interfaces, there was this notion that in order to extract information-rich data from the brain, one needed to penetrate the brain with tiny little needle-like electrodes.”

This type of heavy implantation results in some amount of brain damage during insertion, and Rapoport believed it was unnecessary.

“There should be a way to extract information-rich data from the brain without damaging the brain.”

That’s why he left and formed his own company.

“The Neuralink system is based on penetrating microelectrodes. The Precision system is based on surface microelectrodes, which are tiny little electrodes that coat the surface of the brain without penetrating it.”

Source: Precision Neuroscience

The biggest difference between the two methods is their implantation methods.

Neuralink inserts a quarter-sized chip by removing a portion of the patient’s skull and embedding the implant. The chip “replaces” the bit of skull that was taken away.

They claim to have perfected the method after several monkey patients had to be euthanized after receiving it.

Precision, Rapoport’s new company, uses a less invasive implantation method. They make a “tiny little slit in the scalp that allows us to make an incision through the bone that is less than a millimeter in thickness. Because the electrode films are very thin, we can slip them through a little slit in the bone onto the brain surface.”

Source: Precision Neuroscience

He’s moving faster, too, conducting human trials more than 6 months before Neuralink managed it, despite being founded 5 years later.

Time will tell which of these, if either, will make it to the consumer market.

I, for one, remain skeptical of the lot of them.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.