Neuralink is reportedly under federal investigation into testing on animals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Inspector General is reportedly investigating Neuralink for potential animal welfare violations related to its research tests. By ReutersInternal documents show staff have expressed concerns that the company is hastily testing animals on animals, causing unnecessary suffering and death.

The news outlet said the company has killed 1,500 animals since 2018, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys. These numbers do not automatically mean that Neuralink is breaking the law, and the company has passed all USDA inspections of its facilities. Former and current employees told ReutersHowever, pressure from Neuralink founder Elon Musk to speed up development led to erroneous experiments and thus higher than expected death rates.

Musk has reportedly told his employees since 2016, when the company was founded, to imagine having a bomb strapped to their heads to help them move faster. He also reportedly told staff that if they didn’t make progress it would trigger a “market failure”, which some employees interpreted as a warning that they would shut down the company. Earlier this year, Musk also emailed staff with an article about Swiss researchers creating an implant that helps a paralyzed person walk again. Reuters aforementioned. “Generally, we’re not moving fast enough. It’s driving me crazy!” reportedly wrote in a follow-up email.

After reviewing the internal test documentation, Reuters He said he found four experiments involving 86 pigs and two monkeys, making the results questionable by human errors. Neuralink had to repeat these experiments, which led to more deaths. A message written by an angry employee talked about how rushed animal surgeries lead to underprepared and overstressed employees and eventually making mistakes. a few examples Reuters He found in documents detailing how the Neuralink team placed the company’s brain-machine interface device on the wrong vertebrae of two different pigs—something easily avoided by counting the animals’ vertebrae—forcing the team to kill them to put an end to their suffering.

Earlier this year, animal rights group Physicians Responsible Medicine accused the company of ruining surgeries that killed monkeys. Neuralink, in collaboration with the University of California, Davis, admitted to killing six monkeys because of problems with their experiments. But they defended their research and said that it did not break any laws.

Neuralink recently held an event announcing that it could begin human trials within the next six months. During the program, company founder Elon Musk directly responded to the Physicians Committee’s accusations: “We do everything we can through rigorous over-the-counter testing before we consider implanting a device in an animal. We are extremely careful and when we implant in a sheep, pig or monkey the device is not exploratory. “We always want it to be validator,” he said.

ReutersBut he said he found Neuralink records that made numerous references to “exploratory surgeries.” Neuralink’s Animal Care Program Director, Autumn Sorrells, also reportedly ordered employees in October to remove the word “discovery” from their work title and stop using the term from now on.

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