Elon Musk is renowned for the advances he has made in the world of science. Alongside his space company Space X and his innovative car franchise Tesla, the billionaire also co-founded Neuralink – a neurotechnology firm working on implantable brain-machine interfaces.
The company intends to use a brain-computer interface to allow “human-AI symbiosis” and is currently implementing the concept on animals. However, their actions have spawned a whirlwind controversy as a few concerned bodies have complained about their experiments on animals within the last week.
With accusations flying back and forth from all corners, here are more details to read on the issue.
Neuralink Denies Allegations Of Subjecting Animals To “Extreme Suffering”
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) voiced concerns over the “inadequate animal care” at the University of California’s Davis Primate Centre for Neuralink’s research monkeys.
Neuralink’s response to the accusation detailed that the company had in fact euthanized eight animals during trials of its brain chip technology. However, they denied subjecting monkeys to “extreme suffering” and asserted that the animals were cared for in the right way.
PCRM further claimed that Neuralink violated the Animal Welfare Act nine times and was unconvinced that the company could begin human trials any time soon. The organization alleged that Neuralink had also euthanized more than a dozen monkeys instead of their publicized number.
At the moment, PCRM remains unsatisfied with Neuralink and hopes that they receive some sanctions concerning their animal experiments.
Musk’s Neuralink Defended The Use Of Animals In Their Test Process
Neuralink upheld the use of animals for research purposes in a blog post published on Monday. It highlighted that “all novel medical devices and treatments” on animals were necessary before starting human trials.
“At Neuralink, we are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible,” the neuro-tech company claimed.
“The use of every animal was extensively planned and considered to balance scientific discovery with the ethical use of animals.”
The company also posted images of the lab animals’ facilities, asserting that the subjects living conditions far surpassed the industry regulations. Additionally, they included information and photos about their diet, created by a team of animal experts committed to giving the lab subjects the best care.
Neuralink Claimed No Animals Were Coerced To Participate In Its Tasks
The firm stated that no animals were forced to participate in its demonstrations in a bid to back their claim. The company cited a 2020 training task in which a pig named Gertie chose to eat straw rather than partake in the task.
“Today, Gertie lives the farm life and spends her days lounging in the sun with her two best friends, Harriet and Frieda,” Neuralink said.
“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 company added.
Neuralink completed their statement by saying, “We also look forward to a day where animals are no longer necessary for medical research.”
Neuralink Said They Are Yet To Receive A Citation
According to their statement, Neuralink claimed that the US Department of Agriculture had never given them a citation during their survey of its facilities and animal care program. Additionally, the company asserted that their accreditation from the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International was still valid.
From the look of things, Neuralink is on the move to start human trials. Job postings on Neuralink’s website indicate that the company is currently sourcing personnel skilled in such experiments to add to their current crop of experts.
The company hopes that when the experiment becomes a success, its findings will help treat people with brain disorders and other ailments.