We already knew there were problems with Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface startup Neuralink. Those working internally have warned of the chaos, saying Musk is pushing for overly ambitious goals. Externally, subject matter experts say Musk’s buzz covers the deep challenges that stand in the way of a commercial brain implant for humans, and downplays the deep ethical questions that would arise if it were successful.
Another problem looms from the very beginning: criticism of how the initiative treats its animal subjects. now a bomb Reuters The story reports that these concerns have deepened considerably in the form of a federal investigation into the welfare of animals at the company by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General at the request of a federal prosecutor.
ReutersThe news agency’s reporting sounds comprehensive, drawing on interviews with many of Neuralink’s current and former employees “at a time of growing employee opposition to Neuralink’s animal testing.”
Specific claims are terrible, Reuters It reports that Neuralink has killed nearly 1,500 animals since 2018 so far, including 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys. It’s not clear how many animals specifically died after the company’s prototype brain chip was implanted, Musk said this week, but it was previously reported that 21 percent of its monkeys died. due to problems with the devices.
Sources tell Reuters many mistakes that endanger animal welfare can be avoided. For example, employees told the outlet that the company failed to perform surgery on two pigs by placing their chips on the wrong vertebrae, prompting the company’s vet to recommend killing one of the animals due to “poor psychological health.”
Worse, employees said Reuters that the mistakes that lead to the deaths of animals are sometimes exacerbated by Musk forcing the company to work faster than is safe. An employee showed off to his colleagues with a message he received. Reuters He said the company’s work on animals was a “cheat job”. The outlet reports that numerous employees have raised their concerns internally, with some leaving the company entirely because of concerns about how animals are treated.
Another detail in the story that spanks the scientific literature with an outrageous retrospective: After Musk described the company’s approach to surgery as “confirming, not exploratory,” the company’s researchers were allegedly instructed to delete the word “exploratory” from their study titles retroactively, and in the future. to avoid using.
Neuralink’s problems with the detection of animal tests have been mounting for some time. PETA has talked about the company, and a legal battle is currently underway to obtain photos of the monkeys that Neuralink is experimenting with at the University of California, Davis.
However, a federal investigation – what appears to have grown grudges at the company due to Musk’s dictatorial management style – could represent a rapidly darkening shadow over the company’s already defiant initiative. The drama also unfolds as Musk faces major challenges at his newly acquired social media site Twitter, delays at SpaceX, and a host of problems at Tesla.
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