Elon Musk’s Neuralink is now under federal investigation for rushed animal testing
It seems like Elon Musk‘s plan for the Neuralink implants to move toward its human testing phase may have to be put on hold.
Neuralink is now being investigated for “rushed animal testing,” with claims that multiple animals have either died or suffered in order to fast-track testing. Simultaneously, multiple former employees have criticized Musk’s leadership, stating that the tech billionaire pushed for faster results.
Reuters spoke with former Neuralink employees and obtained official company documents, detailing the results of failed tests conducted on animals. It was reported that the company killed around 1500 animals since experiments started in 2018, including sheep, pigs, monkeys, rats, and mice. Unfortunately, the animal deaths don’t indicate if Neuralink violated any research or practice regulations.
However, these outcomes still resulted in an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to see if Neuralink violated the Animal Welfare Act. This comes after employees complained about the company’s procedure for animal testing and Musk’s demands to accelerate the development of the implants, which has resulted in inaccurate results.
Multiple employees mentioned how they received a “rushed schedule” which led to “under-prepared” and “over-stressed” staff members just so they could hit deadlines. Employees also mentioned how they’ve received emails from the tech CEO after he read an article about Swiss researchers who managed to help a paralyzed man to walk again.
Musk told them that “they’re not moving fast enough.” and told employees to “imagine they had a bomb strapped to their heads” in hopes to motivate them to accelerate the progress of the implants. He also threatened that he would trigger a “market failure” if they failed.
“We could enable people to use their hands and walk again in daily life!” he wrote to staff at 6:37 A.M. Pacific Time on Feb. 8. Ten minutes later, he followed up: “In general, we are simply not moving fast enough. It is driving me nuts!”
Last week, Musk announced that the Neuralink implants would undergo human testing in six months after discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration have “gone well.”
However, the full scope of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s investigation is still unknown. But based on the documents and testimonies that were received, it seems like Neuralink has some questions to answer before humans become Musk’s next test subject.