Neuralink is feeling the heat

Neuralink is pumping out a flurry of PR to counter the reports of animal neglect at the company. Here’s Ryan Tanaka making excuses for them:

Tanaka is an odd one — he claims to have no affiliation with the company, he just loves them so much that he has a YouTube channel dedicated to fluffing Elon Musk and Neuralink. Even here, notice how the justification is I think it’s worthwhile to keep the long-term goals of the team in mind — the end justifies the means. Then he trots out a string of Neuralink employees to say how wonderful the company that pays them is.

That’s worthless.

The goals of Neuralink are sci-fi nonsense and hype about mundane technological developments. They’ve got a chip with more channels than previous efforts…but that’s not where the questions lie. Just throwing more needles into the brain does nothing if you don’t understand the interactions, or the long term consequences of healing, repair, and response to exogenous signals. It’s really a brute force approach to physically interacting with a mammalian brain, and it’s going to be increasingly disastrous as these people fumble about crudely under the directives of an incompetent narcissist.

I don’t want to hear what paid employees say. This is a case where an independent review is necessary by people who don’t get a paycheck from Elon Musk. I’d still like to know why UC Davis no longer supports Neuralink’s animal research. Is it under an NDA? That wouldn’t surprise me at all. In fact, I bet all those employees have a threatening NDA stapled to their backs.

If you want to see something really sad, though, check out Tanaka’s YouTube channel. Read the comments on this video, for example, but they all sound alike. They’re full of desperate people looking for hope. ‘Please sir, cure my seizures/paraplegia/tinnitis/depression/autism/Parkinson’s/multiple sclerosis/schizophrenia. Will it let me talk to animals?’ That’s where the fervor comes from. Musk is the messiah who will heal everything.

Then there are the sci-fi fantasies.

Very ambitious! Nope, not gonna happen.

I want an invasive, dangerous electrical device imbedded in my brain to help with my homework! Sheesh, CS nerds.

That could help with the research. Using an unreliable device and Tesla software to assist you in driving your motorcycle will generate a huge number of test subjects.

Oh, and all the people asking to sign up for the experimental trials! It’s madness. No, don’t do this. Don’t. Just don’t. One of the signs you’re in a cult is the willingness to let the cult leader do experimental neurosurgery on you. It will never end well.


  1. wzrd1 says

    Musk is under serious pressure. Four recalls on Teslas in two weeks, the SEC losing patience with his Twitter stock interference antics on Twitter, now Neuralink accepting misconduct in their animal research.
    I wonder what’s next in his list of enterprises, perhaps something with his Boring Company’s vaporware or his invisible train?

    There are uses for electrodes implanted in the brain, but they’re highly limited and mostly limited by our poor understanding of how brains in general work. Musk approaches it with the understanding level at the 1970’s, at best and with the misapprehension that a brain is a digital computer, which is decidedly is not. The brain is closer to a mix and matched set of difference engines, haphazardly assembled by nature in a way that frankly, it’s amazing that the damned thing works well enough to make and use crude tools.
    So, he sells his Ponzi scheme of science by declaration of magical successes, where such are entirely absent and are still stuck in 1970’s level results. Hell, we had people moving a computer mouse with brain impulses in the 1980’s – occasionally, with tons of training and concentration and that was hit and miss.
    Musk, were he truthful, would label an umbrella corporation over all of his enterprises as “Caveat Emptor Enterprises”. Tesla and SpaceX both being assembly line science and actually not exceptional bleeding edge technologies that he sells them out to be. His rocket explosion rate is equal to NACA and NASA’s early years, his cars magical features kill the operators foolish enough to trust them and he so loathes regulatory protections that his fart and bleating modes are now recalled, as pedestrians would obviously not recognize that noise as a car bearing down on them.
    But, a fool and their money has tons of friends on payday. But, eventually, even Ponzi got caught.

  2. halcy says

    Despite my extreme lack of belief in anything Elon touches, I really would, very much, like Neuralinks work to work out to some extent. It’d allow doing research that currently can only reasonably be done with people who need to have electrodes implanted for medical reasons (which I’ve tangentially worked on) with more people, and for longer, if working as intended. And initially, I was somewhat hopeful that despite Musks weird scifi nonsense announcements, people actually doing the work there had more sensible goals. Unfortunately, every time I hear any news, it looks more and more that their focus really is on these weird scifi goals, and that they’re operating very much in a move-fast-and-break-things sort of way, and that’s just not acceptable at all.

  3. says

    What I find weird about this is all the people begging for Musk to stick a microchip in them after all the fear mongering over Gates’ supposed microchips in vaccines. I guess Bill Gates lost his cool factor a few decades ago. Here’s hoping Musk will lose his sooner than later.

  4. PaulBC says

    “At Neuralink, we respect and honor animals. That’s why we like to kill them. In the most painful way possible.”

  5. tacitus says

    Almost every science YouTube video about the JWST is infested by people who worship at the altar of Musk. I’ve seen claims that Musk would have built a dozen JWSTs for the same price, that they should have built a much bigger space telescope and used Starship to launch it, that Musk could attach a telescope to every Starlink satellite to make a massive interferometry array, that Starship should be used to refuel the JWST, that Starship will slash the cost of future space telescopes (it won’t), and so on.

    It all gets very tiresome.

  6. PaulBC says

    tacitus@6 I’m bad at remembering acronyms and when I try to guess I come up with interpretations like “Jesus, Witness Such Things!” which I still think is a good name (for years on Usenet I read BTW as “Be thus warned” — try it, it works.)

    Anyway, the Webb Telescope is exactly why we cannot rely on the “magic of the marketplace” or the “magic of asshole entrepreneurs” to advance basic scientific research. If Elon Fucking Musk could have put up a dozen then why didn’t he? And with his recent track record, he would need to put up dozen since 11 would have failed and burned up on re-entry.

    One thing (and actually I thought of this too late in reply to a comment in defense of SpaceX) is that the space program is a lot more than propulsion systems, even if you get that part right. NASA spent years training astronauts for the moon landing. Do the Mars idiots even have an astronaut program? The Webb Telescope has billions of dollars of hardware to function as a telescope. SpaceX has no expertise or interest in telescopes. Maybe they can lift stuff to orbit, which is great. So they’re a trucking company. I mean, that’s not a bad thing to be, but let’s not conflate that with a space program.

  7. says

    Maybe they can lift stuff to orbit, which is great. So they’re a trucking company.

    Hay, at least they’re not parking anything on international bridges and making them impassible…

  8. PaulBC says

    gijoel@10 I worked at Google when Google glass was released. I never tried them, but I remember being disappointed when someone described them to me. I think you just got the equivalent of a little browser window in your side view. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) I remember thinking that Google glass of my fantasies would be great for playing pool. I pictured something with a camera that could do image recognition, send the state of the pool table to a server for analysis, and superimpose the precise way to make a difficult bank shot. I mean, that would actually be pretty cool. (However not cool enough to drill a hole in my skull.)

  9. says

    “Mr Musk Mr Musk” that comes off so fucking weird. If they went the weeb route and said “Musk-sensei” I’d probably be less creeped out by it because those people have dehumanized themselves sufficiently in my imagination that my empathy is less bothered by their self-inflicted suffering. “Mr Musk” commenter feels like an Amway victim or a student in the class of a manipulative rapist or something, still pings me.

  10. says

    Last I heard of Google Glass, was when someone wore a pair into a pub, and everyone hounded him out, and maybe took his glasses away. Seemed none of them wanted to be photographed or recorded…

  11. unclefrogy says

    yes it does seem that not many take the social consequences of their tech development ideas very serious. who would have thought what would happen if you made an app where you could make all your communication open to everyone or anyone in the world instantaneously and all the time how cool would that be

  12. birgerjohansson says

    While the reusable rockets are impressive, the contribution by Mr Musk was the money to the engineers that made the stuff.
    EM has said so much dumb shit over the years it negates most of the goodwill he has earned.
    I watch the rocket program with interest but disregard whatever he is saying outside his area of expertise.

  13. Walter Solomon says

    Raging Bee @13

    Meanwhile everyone in the pub have their phones out taking selfies with each other and live streaming.

  14. unclefrogy says

    and every a’ hole in the world can barge right in your face and talk utter shit at there own convenience
    some day maybe in a thousand year or two humans might evolve into a rational being if we live that long that is.