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Elon Musk Is Under Investigation For Welfare Violations—Surprising Absolutely No One

Elon Musk sits outside, staring blankly into the distance, wearing a shirt reading "occupy mars"

Just days after billionaire Elon Musk announced that his health tech company, Neuralink, is expected to start human trials for its brain chip in the next six months, the firm has been accused of welfare violations. Animal tests being conducted at the company are conducted to the deaths of 1,500 animals across four years, allegedly breaching welfare guidelines.

The tests are centered around Neuralink’s work on developing a brain chip that will hopefully help paralyzed people learn to walk again. News agency Reuters has seen a report alleging that hundreds of sheep, pigs, and monkeys have died following experiments since 2018, coupled with claims from employees at the company describing needless suffering and deaths.

One example is the case of 25 pigs that were implanted with experimental chips that were the wrong size, causing them to die. Neuralink employees told Reuters that this could have been avoided with more time to prepare.

However, sources also claim that there is pressure from executives at Neuralink to move the work along faster. Sky News reports that an executive sent employees an email with news of Swiss researchers conducting similar tests successfully, writing: “in general, we are simply not moving fast enough. It is driving me nuts!”

This echoes similar reports from other companies that Musk has been involved in, such as Tesla, where the CEO was described as having high standards, putting pressure on executives, and expecting rapid timelines.

While the actual number of animal deaths isn’t a cause for concern, Neuralink employees claim it’s higher than it needs to be. It’s common to use animal testing in advance of human subjects, but the pressure to bring products to market can mean that testing isn’t always done responsibly—hence the need for welfare rules.

At the outset of the project, Musk said that he disliked the idea of using animal testing and wanted to make sure they were “the happiest animals” while alive, according to an internal source at Neuralink. Other employees interviewed by Reuters added that the company treated animals quite well when compared with other research facilities, explaining how animals were given freedom to roam in what has been described as a “Monkey Disneyland”.

(featured image: Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images)

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