Monkeys whose brains were implanted with a Neuralink chip died in terrible agony: but Elon Musk is still ready to move on to human trials
Elon Musk, co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI, said in X that the monkeys that died during implant trials were “sick” and that “none of them died as a result of the biotech company's brain implants.” But, according to independent research and company employees, this is not so, reports Futurism.
Documents reviewed by Wired as part of the new investigation, as well as testimony from a former employee, completely contradict Musk's claims. This strengthens the growing argument against the Neuralink device. Although on September 20 Neuralink announced that is recruiting people who want to to test brain chips on humans.
Effect of the implant on monkeys
The details of the report of the injured primates are horrifying. They were obtained from veterinary records obtained by Wired from the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) at the University of California, Davis, home of Neuralink's primate research. About a dozen monkeys suffered terrible fates after receiving the Neuralink implant, including brain swelling and partial paralysis.
First, the case of the monkey "Animal 20". In December 2019, the inside of the brain implant that was implanted in the primate “came off” during surgery. Later that night, the monkey scratched the implant site until it bled and pulled part of it out. Subsequent surgery revealed that the wound was infected, but the placement of the implant prevented treatment. The monkey was euthanized the following month.
Prior to this, a female monkey designated as "Animal 15" after receiving a brain implant began pressing her head to the ground, picking at the wound until it bled, and eventually became uncoordinated. She trembled when staff entered the room. Scientists discovered she had a brain hemorrhage, and she too was euthanized in March 2019.
The following year, a primate named "Animal 22" was euthanized in March 2020 after his brain implant became so loose that the screws attaching it to his skull "could easily be pulled out," according to an autopsy report.
“The failure of this implant can be considered purely mechanical and not aggravated by infection,” the autopsy said.
As Wired notes, this statement itself appears to contradict Musk's claims that no monkeys have died directly from Neuralink brain implants.
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The same can be said about the story of a former Neuralink employee. He told Wired magazine that Musk's claims that the monkeys were already terminally ill were "ridiculous" and even "outright fiction."
“We had these monkeys for about a year before any surgery was performed,” the former employee said.
Testimony from an anonymous scientist who conducted research at CNPRC appears to support the former employee's claims.
“These are pretty young monkeys,” he told the magazine. “It’s hard to imagine that these monkeys, who were not adults, were for some reason terminally ill.”
An ethics group known as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has sent letters to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) demanding an investigation into Musk's suspicious statements.
"They're saying they're going to bring a safe device to market, and that's why you should invest," Ryan Merkley of the Physicians Committee told Wired. “And we see his lies as a way to whitewash what happened in these studies.”
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The committee's argument is based on the argument that Musk's posts on X are considered a source of news for investors. This, considering his number of followers on the platform exceeds 150 million, is perhaps reasonable. Musk's tweets have scope and consequences whether he is telling the truth or not.
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