Controversy Surrounds Neuralink’s Animal Testing Procedures
The animal testing procedures carried out by Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, have come under scrutiny following the release of veterinary records obtained through a public records request in California. These records document a series of complications that occurred after surgical procedures involving the implantation of electrodes in monkeys’ brains.
One particularly alarming case involved a monkey, identified as “Animal 20,” whose implant broke off during surgery. This led to bloody discharge and the monkey yanking on a connector, which further dislodged the device. Despite a surgery to repair the issue, fungal and bacterial infections developed, and the monkey was euthanized. Veterinary reports also show that another monkey, “Animal 15,” exhibited signs of pain or infection after surgery, including pressing her head against the floor and picking at her implant. Her condition deteriorated over months, and she was eventually euthanized.
These incidents raise serious concerns about the welfare of the animals subjected to Neuralink’s experiments. The findings contradict Musk’s previous statement that no monkeys died as a result of the company’s chips, and they highlight the potential complications and risks associated with these procedures.
A former Neuralink employee has disputed Musk’s claim that the animals were “close to death already.” According to this anonymous source, the monkeys had been with the company for a significant period and had undergone behavioral training for up to a year before any surgeries took place. Moreover, a doctoral candidate familiar with the research program questions the claim that the monkeys were in a terminal condition, considering their young age and lack of preexisting health issues.
The controversy surrounding Neuralink’s animal testing doesn’t stop there. The company is already facing federal probes into its treatment of animal test subjects, with investigations initiated by the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General and the US Department of Transportation. These investigations come after the US Food and Drug Administration initially rejected Neuralink’s application for approval to conduct in-human clinical trials, citing concerns about the device’s battery and the possibility of wire migration in the brain.
Despite these challenges, Neuralink recently received approval from an independent review board to begin a human trial aimed at enabling individuals with paralysis to control a computer keyboard or cursor with their thoughts. The company’s announcement has sparked hope for potential medical breakthroughs in the future.
However, the controversies surrounding Neuralink’s animal testing procedures and the federal investigations raise important ethical questions. As advancements in neurotechnology continue, it is crucial to prioritize the well-being and humane treatment of animals involved in scientific research. Stricter regulations and increased transparency are necessary to ensure the welfare of animals and maintain public trust in scientific endeavors.