Founded by Elon Musk, Paul Merolla, and Max Hodak, the Neuralink Corporation is dedicated to developing implantable brain-computer interfaces. The company’s headquarters are located in San Francisco’s Pioneer Building and it shares offices with OpenAI, an organization that is working to create a virtual reality system that can be controlled by the human brain.
Using Neuralink’s electrodes to help people with neurological disorders is part of a larger vision: to improve brain-computer interfaces. The company’s mission is to develop “superbrains” that will enable humans to connect with each other and the rest of the world through artificial intelligence.
While this seems like a very exciting goal, the company is still a couple years away from commercial applications. It will be at least eight to ten years before the technology can be used by healthy people.
Neuralink has already made some impressive strides, however, in repairing neurological disorders. The company’s technology has restored the motor function of people with spinal cord injuries. It has also been used to help people with Parkinson’s disease.
Neuralink is looking to develop a brain-computer interface that will make it easier for people with disabilities to operate machines. It’s also designed a system that could help people with hearing loss. In the future, Neuralink’s technology could also help people with blindness.
Tests on rodents
Among the criticisms of Neuralink, one of the main accusations is that Neuralink uses animals in animal tests. According to a federal investigation, Neuralink may have violated the Animal Welfare Act.
Neuralink has been accused of killing hundreds of animals over the past two years, including a number of monkeys. According to records, Neuralink has killed at least 1,500 animals since the start of 2018. It’s unclear how many of the animals are rats or mice. However, the vast majority are probably mice.
Neuralink has also been accused of making human errors in its animal tests. In one study, the company implanted the wrong vertebra twice in a pig. Other human errors led to repeated tests, which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of animals.
Tests on primates
Despite a claim from UC Davis that the Neuralink tests on primates were in compliance with federal animal welfare standards, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) alleges that the experimenters violated the US Animal Welfare Act by euthanizing two monkeys during the test. The PCRM also claims that the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) failed to provide proper veterinary care to the Neuralink test monkeys.
PCRM is an animal rights group that advocates alternatives to animal testing. According to PCRM, UC Davis has not released photos and videos of the Neuralink tests on primates. In addition, PCRM alleges that UC Davis and Neuralink violated the Animal Welfare Act in nine other ways.
PCRM’s claims are based on 600 pages of public records requests. PCRM has also filed a second request for monkey videos. The group alleges that the University of California, Davis’s response to the first request “did not adequately address” the photos and videos.
Animals used in the research
Hundreds of monkeys have been killed in animal-based research at Neuralink, a company based in California. Neuralink has also killed pigs and sheep. However, the company has not been cited by the USDA, which is responsible for investigating animal research facilities.
Neuralink, which has a goal of making a device that could allow paralyzed people to walk again, has partnered with the University of California, Davis, to conduct animal-based research. Neuralink says its animal research has been conducted under the care of the University of California’s Primate Center, and that the University of California adheres to all applicable laws and regulations.
Neuralink’s partnership with the University of California, Davis, began in 2017. Neuralink said all of its monkey tests were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the University of California, Davis. However, documents obtained by Reuters reveal that many of Neuralink’s animal experiments involved more than the minimum amount of time required.
Animals could be used in human testing within six months
Earlier this week, Neuralink, the brain implant company owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, announced that they will be entering human trials of their device within six months. The device could help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis to control motorized devices with their minds. Neuralink claims the device can even help blind people see.
The company’s tests have been controversial, however. Its animal care staff have complained of unnecessary animal deaths, and Neuralink is alleged to have botched several surgeries. The company has also been criticized for its unrealistic timelines. It’s estimated that if Neuralink is successful, the device could help paralyzed people walk again.
While Neuralink claims its testing is confirmatory, employees say the company does more testing than necessary. A recent Reuters report identified four experiments that were marred by human errors.