Elon Musk’s brain implant company is under federal investigation in the US after reports that tests have killed about 1,500 animals over the past four years.
euralink is developing a chip it hopes will help paralyzed people walk again, but staff say the tests are being rushed due to overwhelming pressure from Mr Musk, causing unnecessary suffering and deaths.
Mr Musk has reportedly told staff to pretend they have a bomb strapped to their heads to make them move faster, according to three sources.
It is alleged that a number of tests were botched due to poor preparation and animals had to be euthanized. In total, about 1,500 animals have died, including sheep, pigs and monkeys, according to Reuters.
This follows experiments since 2018, according to records and sources with direct knowledge of the company’s animal testing facilities.
The mistakes that led to “unnecessary” animal deaths included a case in 2021 when 25 out of 60 pigs in a study had devices implanted in their heads that were the wrong size.
Elsewhere it has been claimed that surgeons used the wrong surgical glue twice, causing two monkeys to suffer and eventually die.
An investigation was launched by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General at the request of a federal prosecutor.
Neuralink has passed all USDA inspections of its facilities, government filings show. The number of animal deaths doesn’t necessarily indicate that Neuralink violates regulations or standard research practices, but current and former employees say the total is higher than necessary for reasons related to Mr Musk’s calls for the research to be expedited.
According to insiders, at least four experiments involving 86 pigs and two monkeys have been marred by human error in recent years, weakening the research value of the experiments and requiring the tests to be repeated, resulting in more animal deaths.
Three employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed the errors to a lack of preparation by a testing team working in a pressure cooker environment.
Neuralink has been contacted for comment.
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