Monday, June 24, 2024

Neuralink denies animal cruelty claims

Neuralink, the firm set up by Tesla boss Elon Musk to develop a device that connects our brains to computers, has denied animal cruelty claims, the BBC reports.

A complaint filed last week to the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleged cruel treatment of macaque monkeys that are being used to test the technology.

In a blog, Neuralink said it worked with animals in the “most humane and ethical way possible.”

The firm hopes to begin human trials of the device later this year.

In the blog, posted in response to recent criticism, Neuralink said: “Our central mission is to design an animal care program prioritizing the needs of the animals, rather than the typical strategy of building for human convenience alone. The use of every animal was extensively planned and considered to balance scientific discovery with the ethical use of animals.”

At the start of the research, Neuralink partnered with Davis National Primate Research Center – part of the University of California Davis – but in 2020 built its own vivarium to house the monkeys, with the stated intention of “improving upon” current standards.

The complaint was filed last week by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine against UC Davis, and related to “invasive and deadly brain experiments conducted on 23 monkeys.”

It claims: “Most of the animals had portions of their skulls removed to implant electrodes in their brains.”

It also alleges that macaque monkeys used in the experiment were caged alone, suffered “facial trauma”, and had seizures and infections local to the site of the implant.

Some were euthanized before they were used in experiments, it claims.

The committee said it acquired the information from 600 pages of documents released after it filed a public records legal action last year. It has now filed a second legal action to compel the university to release videos and photos of the monkeys.

In its rebuttal of the claims, Neuralink acknowledged that two animals were put to death “at planned end dates to gather important histological data.”

Another six monkeys were euthanized on the medical advice of the veterinary team at UC Davis, it said.

“These reasons included one surgical complication involving the use of the FDA-approved product, BioGlue, one device failure, and four suspected device-association infections,” it said.

It added: “While the facilities and care at UC Davis did, and continue to meet, federally mandated standards, we absolutely wanted to improve upon these standards as we transitioned animals to our in-house facilities.”

In 2020, the firm opened a 6,000-square-foot vivarium, housing farm animals and rhesus macaques. In the blog, it posted pictures of the unit, showing toys, food and what it called “enrichment devices” to allow animals to forage.

The device the firm is working on consists of a tiny probe made up of thousands of electrodes attached to flexible threads – thinner than human hair – that can monitor the activity of neurons.Initially, the company said it hoped a successful device could be used to help patients with severe neurological conditions, but Musk also envisions a future of “superhuman cognition.” So far, the firm has successfully implanted microchips into the brain of a pig called Gertrude and a monkey named Pager.

BIG Media
BIG Media
Our focus is on facts, accurate data, and logical interpretation. Our only agenda is the truth.

BIG Wrap

Russia, Ukraine trade air attacks as Moscow blames U.S. for beach strike

(Al Jazeera Media Network) Russia and Ukraine traded attacks which resulted in casualties overnight and into Sunday, officials from both sides say. At least five people...

Millions of students at risk of being affected by Indian elite exam scam

(Al Jazeera Media Network) India’s top examinations for admissions into medical schools and research programs have come under unprecedented scrutiny amid mounting evidence of corruption...