Outrage at Musk as firm under investigation after 1,500 animal deaths

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Elon Musk has sparked backlash as his secretive brain chip company is reportedly under investigation for alleged animal welfare violations after a report claimed a total of 1,500 animals have died over four years following experiments.  Neuralink is the firm set up by the world’s richest man which is making a brain chip implant that could one day allow people to control technology with their minds. The firm hopes this could eventually cure various neurological issues, and help paraplegics walk again. 

But staff at Neuralink have made internal complaints that the testing of the technology is being rushed on animals, resulting in needless suffering and deaths, according to Reuters. 

The news agency’s report claims that 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys have died following experiments since 2018.

However, it is important to note that the 1,500 animal deaths are not necessarily a guarantee of malpractice or wrongdoing. Various different medical companies of different kinds routinely use animals in experiments, and deaths can come about as a result.

But internal staff at the firm have alleged that Mr Musk has ramped up pressure to speed up the technology’s development, resulting in failed experiments that need to be done again. 

For instance, the report notes that 25 pigs were implanted with devices that were the wrong size, which a source said was an error that could have been avoided with more preparation.

The Reuters report also claimed that Mr Musk told employees to imagine they had a bomb strapped to their heads in an effort to get them to move faster on multiple occasions. 

The accusations have sparked a huge backlash on Twitter from members of the public who are alarmed by the claims of the report. 

Twitter user Ginigen, said: “This makes me so angry, and sad. These animals don’t need to be treated like this, for something like this. It’s cruel, sad, and infuriating.”

Twitter user Kristine S, noted that the alarm has been raised over Neuralink’s activities once before, back when the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine alleged that Neuralink was conducting horrific experiments on monkeys.  She tweeted: “It didn’t come out of nowhere.”

According to Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy with the Physicians Committee, Mr Musk has been hiding the “grisly details” of his experiments from the public. 

Handwritten records reportedly reveal that the implants became infected that the “skin was eroded” almost immediately, according to a report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 

For instance, claims were made that a monkey dubbed  “Animal 11,” was subjected to a six-hour surgery in which Neuralink researchers drilled holes in its skull and implanted electrodes in her brain. 

Mr Merkley said of Mr Musk:  “He’s a showman who makes big promises while hiding the grisly details from the public. We’re pulling back the curtain on him.”

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This was just one bit of detail on hundreds of pages of public records revealing vast amounts of animals suffering from botched experiments, many resulting in chronic infections, seizures, paralysis, internal bleeding, and declining psychological health before the animals get put down. 

Launched in 2016, Neuralink has already missed a number of Mr Musk’s deadlines to win regulatory approval and begin human clinical trials, sources told Reuters. Just last week, the 51-year-old multi-billionaire wrote on Twitter that he was “confident the Neuralink device is ready for humans, so timing is a function of working through the approval process”.

Animals are usually killed when experiments are completed, normally so experts can examine them post-mortem for further research. 

However, both current and former Neuralink employees argue that the number of animal deaths at the San Francisco-based firm is far higher than it ought to be.

Express.co.uk has reached out to Neuralink for comment.

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