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An animal rights group has accused Elon Musk's Neuralink of subjecting monkeys to 'extreme suffering'.
Founded in 2016, the tech giant's start-up has been developing a wireless chip that, in theory, could allow humans to control a computer of sorts with their mind, earlier described as a ‘Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires’. It unveiled its first working prototype in a pig named Gertrude, and later released footage of a monkey playing Pong with its brain. Musk earlier said he wants to start human trials in 2022.
However, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) claims it has obtained records that show the monkeys in Neuralink's care experienced 'extreme suffering as a result of inadequate animal care and the highly invasive experimental head implants during the experiments'.
As per Insider and the New York Post, the records specifically relate to 23 monkeys owned by Neuralink that were housed and experimented upon at the federal primate-research facility at the University of California at Davis. According to the PCRM, there are more than 700 pages of documents detailing the horrid treatment of animals.
The PCRM has accused both the company and campus of nine violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including breaches of stipulations that researchers minimise pain and distress for animals and carry out daily observations. The committee also included specific examples in its draft complaint, which we'll include below — warning, some may find the details distressing.
At least 15 out of 23 monkeys implanted with Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chips have reportedly died.— Pop Base (@PopBase) February 12, 2022
Elon previously announced that Neuralink was preparing to launch human trials for the brain chips this year. pic.twitter.com/qyKA7SE1Sv
One monkey was allegedly found without some of its fingers and toes as a result of 'possibly from self-mutilation or some other unspecified trauma', and the same monkey was later killed during a 'terminal procedure', according to the complaint.
Another monkey allegedly had holes drilled into its skill and electrodes implanted into its brain, before having to be euthanised after developing a skin infection. A third monkey also had electrodes implanted into its brain, but suffered with vomiting, retching and gasping, and 'appeared to collapse from exhaustion/fatigue' before being euthanised. According to a later autopsy, the monkey suffered a brain haemorrhage.
15 out of 23 monkeys implanted with Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chips have reportedly died. Elon previously announced that Neuralink was preparing to launch human trials for the brain chips this year so you can save & store your memory. pic.twitter.com/3UpYBGRSsZ— SAY CHEESE! 👄🧀 (@SaycheeseDGTL) February 12, 2022
'Pretty much every single monkey that had had implants put in their head suffered from pretty debilitating health effects. They were, frankly, maiming and killing the animals,' Jeremy Beckham, the PCRM's research advocacy director, told The Post.
In response, a UC Davis spokesperson said the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee 'thoroughly reviewed and approved' its Neuralink project. 'We strive to provide the best possible care to animals in our charge,' they added.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Featured Image Credit: Neuralink/Alamy
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