Neuralink is a neurotechnological company that is owned by Elon Musk and is focused on developing brain implant interfaces. They have allegedly killed or euthanized 15 monkeys out of the total 23 of their test subjects. Several animal rights groups have accused the company of 9 violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act. The University of California, Davis was also accused of doing so.
Several tests were conducted at the University of California, Davis from 2017 till 2020. The experiment involved a total of 23 monkeys, who had their brains fitted with the Neuralink chips. 15 of those test subjects had died by 2020, as per a report from California’s open records law.
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The PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) filed a regulatory complaint with the US Department of Agriculture and had claimed to have proof that the test monkeys were subjected to illogical suffering at the company.
The PCRM also claimed to have 700 pages of relevant documents that were obtained through a public-records request to the University of California, Davis.
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Neuralink is currently working on “developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.” They claim that these brain chips can help people with neurological disorders like dementia, spinal cord injuries, and even Alzheimer’s.
Neuralink Defended Their Use Of Test Monkeys, Animals Should Be Tested On Before Humans
Neuralink had defended themselves by stating that the use of animals was imminent. They had to test “all novel medical devices and treatments” in animals before it was administered to human beings.
In one of their previous videos they also stated that they want to treat test animals “humanely”:
“At Neuralink, we are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible,” the firm stated.
“The use of every animal was extensively planned and considered to balance scientific discovery with the ethical use of animals.”
The company in question had shared several images of the laboratory where the animals were kept in. They had also claimed that Neuralink exceeded the industry regulation for living space by approximately 150 times. The diet offered to the test monkeys was also posted on the blog which was conveniently overlooked by “a large, dedicated team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, behaviorists, enrichment technicians, and animal care specialists”.
The company also claimed that they never forced the test monkeys to participate in the training if it was hesitant. They had cited a public demonstration in 2020 where Gertrude, a pig, chose to forage through a straw than appear on stage.
“Today, Gertie lives the farm life and spends her days lounging in the sun with her two best friends Harriet and Frieda,” Neuralink noted, claiming that she was one of several test animals that had retired to sanctuaries after completing their contribution to the study.
“At Neuralink, we are never satisfied with the current standards for animal well-being and we will always push ourselves to do more for the animals that are contributing so much to humanity,” the blog concluded.
“We also look forward to a day where animals are no longer necessary for medical research.”
Neuralink had admitted to the euthanization of 8 monkeys during the entire process. Two of them were euthanized at “planned end dates to gather important histological data” while the other six were killed due to surgical complications or device failures.
Despite the aforementioned incidents, Neuralink had never received a citation from the US Department of Agriculture inspections of its care program and its facilities and was accredited by the AAALAC ( Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care) International.
Recent updates from Neuralink’s site suggested that the startup was preparing the first-ever human trials of its brain-computer interface tech. They eventually hope to use this tech to allow “human-AI symbiosis” though early applications will focus on treating people with brain disorders.