Animal abuse: 1,500 dead animals in 4 years, Neuralink under federal investigation

A guinea pig monkey from Neuralink.

© Neuralink Video Capture

Did Neuralink, a company specializing in the development of brain implants, violate animal protection rules in the United States? Federal authorities have opened an investigation and are conducting initial investigations, according to documents seen by Reuters this Monday, December 5. For several years, the promising firm of Elon Musk has been plagued by criticism.

Tests necessary for the development of brain implants would have led several animals to unnecessary suffering and death, according to the testimony of several employees of the company. Management pressure on the researchers could have led to too rapid trials, according to initial partial conclusions. The investigation by federal authorities was initiated by the inspector general of the United States Department of Agriculture at the request of a federal prosecutor. It is about the way the researchers treated the animals.

According to the Reuters agency, about twenty employees expressed their dissatisfaction with the experiments carried out on animals. Elon Musk is accused by his collaborators of having exerted unhealthy pressure in order to advance research on implants more quickly. A situation that could have led to unnecessary abuse and mass deaths after botched experiments. However, Neuralink would have successfully passed all the audits of the United States Department of Agriculture.

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Abnormally high deaths

In total, the company would be responsible for the death of more than 1,500 animals including 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys after various experiments since 2018. Rough estimates because the company does not keep any precise records. During the test phases, companies are sometimes led to cause the death of animals in order to advance human research. But according to the testimonies of several employees of the American start-up, the number of deaths at the end of the experiments at Neuralink would be abnormally high.

According to internal documents, Elon Musk’s patience gradually dried up as the backlogs piled up in the search. The CEO of the company would then have encouraged the researchers to work more quickly. An internal pressure that would have led to the failure of several animal tests. However, according to the statements of several employees, Elon Musk would have had no intention of causing these animals to suffer voluntarily. The American billionaire told employees he wanted the monkeys at his San Francisco Bay facility to live in a real “Taj Mahal of the Monkeys.

Contacted by Reuters, Neuralink and Elon Musk did not react. The company released a video on December 1 that purports to show its commitment to animal welfare.

Already in February 2022, the Committee of Practitioners for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) accused Neuralink of animal abuse. Very recently, Elon Musk assured that the technology was mature enough to be tested on men. Trials that he intends to begin in less than six months, pending FDA authorization.

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