Bombshell Report Says Elon Musk's Neuralink Under Federal Investigation

Staffers at Musk's medical device manufacturer have reportedly complained that rushed tests are causing needless animal deaths.

By Steve Huff • Dec 6, 2022

NurPhoto / Contributor | Getty Images

Federal authorities are investigating Elon Musk's Neuralink for potential animal-welfare violations. According to Reuters, staff members have complained that the company is rushing animal testing procedures, causing the animals involved to suffer and die.

Elon Musk co-founded Neuralink Corporation, a neurotechnology company, in 2016. Its goal is to develop a brain-machine interface (BMI) that will connect the human brain to computers. Musk believes this technology will help people with neurological disorders — such as paralysis or severe motor impairments — to regain control of their bodies and improve their quality of life. Neuralink's implant is a chip surgically implanted into the brain. There it records individual neurons' activity, transmitting that information to a computer. According to a recent presentation by Musk, the company is testing its tech in animals and plans to conduct clinical trials in humans within the next six months.

Reuters reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Inspector General has opened a federal probe into Neuralink Corporation. A federal prosecutor reportedly requested an investigation focused on potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act, a law governing animal research, testing, and treatment. The exact nature of the alleged violations and the current status of the investigation are still being determined, as the Inspector General's office has yet to release any additional information.

The investigation coincides with employee dissent regarding the company's animal testing practices. Reuters says it reviewed Neuralink documents and interviewed more than 20 current and former employees, and many have complained that Elon Musk is pressuring them to speed up development, leading to increased testing failures and animal deaths. The allegations, however, have not been independently confirmed.

According to Reuters, current and past Neuralink employees reported that the number of animal deaths at the company is higher than necessary due to pressure from Musk to speed up research. In addition, Reuters identified experiments involving 86 pigs and two monkeys marred by human errors, weakening their research value and forcing them to be repeated. Those who spoke to the news service alleged errors were caused by a lack of preparation and staff working under high-pressure conditions.

Reuters' review of Neuralink records found multiple references to exploratory surgeries over several years — contradicting the company's insistence that it avoids such tests.

Furthermore, company discussions showed employees expressing concerns about the head of animal care, Autumn Sorrells, requesting changes to study descriptions in a way that they believed would be misleading, with one employee noting that the request was designed to provide "better optics" for Neuralink.

Steve Huff

Entrepreneur Staff

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