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Neuralink: over 1,500 animals died during experiments, American authorities open an investigation


The US Government’s Department of Agriculture has opened an investigation into Neuralink , Elon Musk’s startup engaged in the development of a chip to be implanted in the brain to create a human-machine interface. The accusation is very serious: during the tests, Neuralink would have caused the death of 1,500 animals in just four years .


The suspicion is that Neuralink has systematically violated animal welfare regulations. Suspicion fueled by the testimonies of some former employees of the startup, who accused the management of having started experimenting on animals too early, subjecting them to unjustified and avoidable suffering.

While this is undoubtedly a blow to Neuralink’s reputation, these allegations need to be treated with caution. «The number of animals killed during the experiments is impressive – writes the Engadget magazine – but it does not automatically mean that Neuralink has violated the law ». Neuralink has successfully passed several inspections conducted by the Department of Agriculture which, among other things, is responsible for enforcing animal safety and welfare regulations.

In its investigation into Neuralink, Reuters news agency obtained several documents from the startup, including a report on the deaths of 86 pigs and two monkeys. Numerous tests – reports Reuters – have failed due to human errors and, consequently, it was necessary to repeat them, increasing the number of animals that died in the experimentation phase. Another report mentions how two pigs were euthanized because researchers installed the chip on the animal’s wrong vertebrae.


Errors that could be caused by the climate of urgency created by Elon Musk himself . “You have to work as if you have a bomb with a timer attached to your head,” he wrote in an email sent to all employees. While in another he had complained about the slowness of the researchers, linking to a newspaper article that spoke of the successes of a rival research team.


Just last week Neuralink held an event dedicated to the latest achievements. On that occasion Elon Musk announced his intention to start the first tests on humans within the next six months. It goes without saying that the investigation opened by the USDA could force the startup to review its objectives.


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