Reuters reports that Elon Musk’s Neuralink, a medical device company, is under federal investigation for potential animal-welfare violations. Internal staff complaints allege that the company’s animal testing is being rushed, causing needless suffering and deaths. 15 out of 23 monkeys given the brain implant are supposed to have died. NY Post quotes Jeremy Beckham, from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who said:
“Pretty much every single monkey that had had implants put in their head suffered from pretty debilitating health effects, they were, frankly, maiming and killing the animals.”
The news comes just a few days after Elon Musk stated the company’s brain implant device is ready for human trials:
While Musk denies all animal cruelty claims, the details revealed by Reuters and NY Post paint a rather different and gruesome picture. The Post reports that one monkey was found missing some of its fingers and toes “possibly from self-mutilation or some other unspecified trauma.” The monkey was later put down.
In another case, a monkey had holes drilled in its skull and electrodes implanted into its brain, then allegedly developed a bloody skin infection and had to be euthanized, according to the complaint as seen by The Post.
In a third instance, a female macaque monkey had brain electrodes implanted, only to be overcome with vomiting and gasping. NY Post reports that some days later, researchers noted the animal “appeared to collapse from exhaustion/fatigue” and was eventually euthanized.
Reuters reports that the company has killed about 1,500 animals in total, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, following experiments since 2018. Current and former Neuralink employees told Reuters the number of animal deaths is higher than needed due to Musk’s demands to speed up the research.
After the allegations were made public, Neuralink put out a press release stating that it is “never satisfied with the current standards for animal well being and we will always push ourselves to do more for the animals that are contributing so much to humanity.” The short term goal of the company is to make devices to treat serious brain diseases, with Musk having stated that their long term goal is a “symbiosis with artificial intelligence”.