Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company Neuralink has become the subject of a US federal complaint and lawsuit after “invasive and deadly brain experiments” were reportedly carried out on 23 monkeys – leaving 15 of them dead.
The Tesla billionaire’s firm – which aims to help paralysed individuals “by giving them the ability to control computers and mobile devices directly with their brains” – partnered with the University of California, Davis on the research, with $1.4 million allegedly given to the institution in funding.
However, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) claims the university has violated the Animal Welfare Act and has complained to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
It has also filed a lawsuit ordering the release of videos and photographs of the animals, which the university is refusing to provide because they belong to Neuralink – a private company exempt from the Public Records Act.
Jeremy Beckham, research advocacy coordinator with the committee, said: “UC Davis may have handed over its publicly-funded facilities to a billionaire, but that doesn’t mean it can evade transparency requirements and violate federal animal welfare laws.”
The move comes after the PCRM obtained close to 600 pages of documents about the experiments through an initial lawsuit in 2021.
“The documents reveal that monkeys had their brains mutilated in shoddy experiments and were left to suffer and die,” Mr Beckham added.
According to the PCRM, the macaque monkeys weren’t provided with “adequate veterinary care” when they were dying, suffering infections, “facial trauma”, seizures and “recurring infections” in parts of the brain where the chips were implanted.
Meanwhile Insider, who have viewed the complaint filed with the USDA, describe one instance where a monkey was missing fingers and toes “possibly from self-mutilation or some other unspecified trauma” as part of the research, which is understood to have been carried out from 2017 to 2020.
In a statement to The New York Post, a spokesperson for the University of California, Davis said: “We strive to provide the best possible care to animals in our charge.
WAV Comment – !!! Best possible care ?? – Bullshit.
“Animal research is strictly regulated, and UC Davis follows all applicable laws and regulations including those of the US Department of Agriculture.”
They also told the outlet that they finished working with Neuralink in 2020.
It isn’t the only instance of monkeys being implanted with the company’s chip, as the organisation shared a video of a macaque named Pager playing a game of MindPong with the technology in April last year.
In December, Musk tweeted that “progress will accelerate” with Neuralink “when we have devices in humans … next year”.
Indy100 has approached Neuralink and Elon Musk for comment.