Elon Musk’s company is under investigation for animal welfare violations

Elon Musk’s human-machine interface company Neuralink is under federal investigation for “potential animal welfare violations.” The company wants to go too fast and will not take enough care of the animals during its experiments.

Source: Neuralink

A few days ago, we learned that Neuralink would be able to place its implant in a human brain within six months, five years after its launch. But Reuters revealed on Monday that a federal investigation had been opened against Elon Musk’s company for “potential violation of animal welfare legislation“.

At this time, neither Neuralink nor Elon Musk have commented on the matter.

The US government opens an investigation into Neuralink

The news agency reported that the inspector general of the US Department of Agriculture opened this investigation a few months ago to verify that Neuralink compliesanimal welfare act a federal law of the United States” which regulates the treatment of animals in search for example. It is in response to a federal prosecutor’s request and concerns ” animal testing and processing at Neuralink’s own facilities “.

The implant // Source: Neuralink

It all starts with the Medical Committee for Responsible Medicine, an association of doctors who fight for a medicine.responsible» claimed by Neuralink «mutilatedmonkeys as part of the development of its brain-machine interface. She had filed a complaint against Neuralink with the US Department of Agriculture in relation to the experiments on monkeys carried out as part of the partnership with the University of California. A complaint sent by a federal prosecutor in California to the US Department of Agriculture.

Neuralink has been criticized several times in the past for its treatment of animals

But we can see that in some respects Neuralink is not lagging behind in terms of the treatment of animals according to some of its employees, at least in the beginning. Elon Musk would have said a few years ago “that he wanted the monkeys […] lives in an “Aber’s Taj Mahal”“and”that he didn’t like using animals for research but wanted to make sure they were “the happiest animals” in their lifetime“. From what is being said internally, times would have changed.

Reading the sow’s brain makes it possible to predict its movements // Source: Neuralink

In response to the complaint from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the company had published a blog post confirming its commitment “absolutely to work with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible“. To support her position, she even posted pictures of laboratory animals to show that they were well treated there and with detailed information about their “lifestyle“.

Neuralink is not taking enough care of its lab animals because it is going too fast

According to internal sources, Elon Musk accelerated the development of technologies and therefore tests which “caused unnecessary harm to animals and reckless experiments, resulting in an increased number of laboratory animal deaths“, writingCNETwho reports the information. A situation that employees are witnessing and growing increasingly unhappy, complaining of pressure from their CEO.

A monkey playing Pong with a Neuralink chip // Source: Neuralink

The journalists conducting this investigation had access to internal Neuralink exchanges and documents. We discover that numerous animal experiments have been affected by human error, leading to the death of these animals. Failed or low-value attempts that had to be repeated, especially due to lack of preparation and high pressure on staff. For five people who have worked on Neuralink experiments, the latter “Neuralink runs tests in rapid succession before fixing issues in previous tests or drawing full conclusions“.

Reuterstalks about 1,500 animals killed since 2018, an imprecise estimate”due to Neuralink’s record inaccuracies“but there would be”more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys», where a large majority of the animals killed are rats and mice. However, be careful, this number of deaths does not imply a violation of Neuralink’s rules, if we question the exploitation of animals for scientific research and the ethical questions it may raise.

The pressure in question from Elon Musk, according to his own employees

The news agency has also collected testimony from Neuralink employees implicating their boss, Elon Musk, who also took control of Twitter a few weeks ago. He would push for the experiments to move forward as quickly as possible, declaring to them, for example: “In general, we just don’t move fast enough. It drives me crazy!“. The article ofReutersadds that Elon Musk on several occasions “told employees to imagine they had a bomb strapped to their heads“, a comment heard by several people.

Elon Musk

More than an impatience, it would be a loss of patience, as Neuralink had repeatedly missed its deadlines due to the late obtaining of the necessary permits to begin its human clinical trials. Especially since in August 2020 its CEO Elon Musk had presented The Link in version 0.9, its skull implant that allows certain neural data to be read.

The pressure on the management, which refers to the employees, and which has led to several people leaving the company.”due to animal research concerns“. These animal killing issues may backfire on Elon Musk himself, not only for ethical issues, but also for issues of advancing his technology. Internally, there are questions about the quality of the data resulting from the experiments. This could potentially delay Neuralink’s commercial offering, which aims to begin human trials in six months.

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