17 February 2022

Serious accusation

Elon Musk's Neuralink was blamed for the death of 23 macaques as a result of cruel experiments

Georgy Golovanov, Hi-tech+

The Committee of Physicians for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a complaint against the Neuralink company owned by Elon Musk, which is engaged in the development of the brain-computer neurointerface, about the conduct of inhumane experiments on monkeys by the company's specialists and biologists from the University of California at Davis. Activists have received detailed data on the mass death of animals as a result of cruel experiments — at least 23 macaques have already died, the fate of 10 more is unknown. Neuralink denies the accusations.

In a statement, PCRM said that at the university, monkeys "had their brains mutilated during cheap experiments and left them to suffer and die." For its part, Neuralink claims that the laboratory "met and continues to meet federal standards," although after filing a complaint, it transported the animals to its own building, Verge reports.

PCRM's complaint is based on documents that have become public describing the partnership between Neuralink and the university from 2017 to 2020, during which the university received $1.4 million, including for implanting an implant "about the size of a quarter-dollar coin" into the skull of macaques.

A human rights organization fighting medical experiments on animals claims that the team of scientists "did not provide adequate veterinary care to dying monkeys, used an unapproved substance BioGlue, which killed monkeys by destroying parts of their brains, and did not deal with the mental health of experimental monkeys."


Representatives of Neuralink called this statement "misleading" and devoid of context. Several animals that suffered from "a wide range of diseases unrelated to our study" were euthanized so that scientists could practice implanting the implant, and six more were euthanized because they had an infection caused by implantation or complications after the use of BioGlue, a widely used surgical glue.

In total, the documents mention 23 animals that died during the experiments, plus another ten that were transported to the Neuralink laboratory or excluded from the project.

"All the work with animals that was carried out in At the University, they received the approval of the Institutional Committee for the Care and Use of Animals (IACUC) in accordance with federal law, and all medical and post-surgical procedures, including decisions on termination of life, were taken under the supervision of qualified and certified veterinarians," the company reports.

The neural interface that the company is developing should eventually give people the opportunity to control electronics with the power of thought: manipulate robots or type text without the help of hands, for example. In a video published last spring, one of the monkeys is playing ping-pong with the power of thought.

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