According to reports, the federal government has opened an inquiry into one of Elon Musk’s firms for possible violations of animal-welfare rules.
Reuters reports that a federal prosecutor requested the United States Department of Agriculture Inspector General to investigate Neuralink, where Musk serves as CEO.
This neurotechnology firm is working on “ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers,” as stated on their website.
It has been reported that the inquiry is focused on possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which “regulates the treatment of animals in research, education, testing, display, shipping, and by dealers,” as the agency puts it.
Based on personnel interviews, the report acknowledges that “Neuralink treats animals pretty well compared to other research institutions.” The company’s executives have discussed creating a “Monkey Disneyland” at one testing site and a “monkey Taj Mahal” for the animals at another.
A few employees have allegedly stated that mistakes were made in animal testing, such as on monkeys and pigs because Musk was obsessed with pushing for speedier timelines to deliver goods to the stage where they may be tested on people.
The workers claim that due to the blunders, more animals have died due to unsuccessful procedures and repeated trials. To evaluate the experiment’s success, killing the animals after that postmortem examination is standard practice.
It has been claimed that minor errors, such as implanting the incorrect device or implanting a device in the wrong vertebra of animals, have plagued the research.
Musk predicted last week that the company’s wireless brain chips would begin human clinical testing within the next six months, so this announcement is no surprise. The purpose of these implants is to restore mobility and speech to the severely impaired.
Before implanting a technology into a human, “we want to be meticulous and assured that it will operate properly,” added Musk. We may be moving at a snail’s pace at first, especially if it involves people, but be assured that we’re simultaneously working on every aspect of this project necessary to scale it. It follows that growth should be exponential, at least in principle.