Neuralink’s implant of brain-chip on monkey’s brain had caused its brain to swell, rupturing it and finally scientists had to kill it to let go of suffering, report reveals.
Neuralink, founded in 2016 by Elon Musk, aims to insert a chip on human-brain for establishing direct communication channels between brain and computers. It’s like operating a computer by just a thought in your brain. The firm had been through series of experiments done in monkeys, sheep and pigs. It had come all way to conduct its trails to humans, being received FDA clearance recently.
A recent report obtained by Wired uncloaks that the monkeys involved in the research – tan macaque, had gone through severe suffering, and scientists had no other choice than killing it, to stop it from enduring torment.
The brain-chip implant firm conducted experiments with macaque during 2018-2020, for which roughly a dime-coin sized hole was drilled into its skull, placing electrodes inside their brains, and screwing titanium plates to their skulls.
Neuralink tied up with University of California – Davis for test subjects and it had tight control over UC Davis, on not to divulge about the experiments. The sources familiar with the tests shed light on the tensions between the school and outside groups over the public’s right to know about research it’s subsidizing, Wired reports.
There were hot arguments between the firm and school due to which Neuralink ended its partnership with UC Davis in 2020, after the school raised concern over secrecy of the research. The sources say secrecy is given top priority, not merely because of the proprietary research being conducted at the center, but also out of fear that the public will respond poorly—perhaps violently—to images of the macaques being experimented on.
The write-up of Wired uncovers that there were many upsetting photos of macaque monkey over its stages of trials and UC Davis and Neuralink were pretty sure and meticulous to not let them getting leaked. One researcher familiar with photos agrees that they are dreadful. “A macaque skull with the flesh torn out of it is not a pretty image,” they say.
Though the school’s protocols work effectively to prevent leakage of images of the experiments, it could not legally keep hidden all the written records of Neuralink’s procedures.
This is what the Monkey’s Autopsy says
Neuralink’s research and experiment with the macaque left her with a “severe neurological defect.” When it was time to put the monkey to sleep, the Neuralink scientist let the monkey to suffer for another day, before killing it. As the attending staff sat back and observed, the monkey seized and vomited.
Her pupils reacted less and less to the light. Her right leg went limp, and she could no longer support the weight of her 15-pound body without gripping the bars of her cage. One attendant moved a heat lamp beside her to try to stop her shaking. Sometimes she would wake and scratch at her throat, retching and gasping for air, before collapsing again, exhausted.
The mounting pressure inside her skull due to the implant had deformed and ruptured her brain, autopsy reveals. A toxic adhesive around the Neuralink implant bolted to her skull had leaked internally. The resulting inflammation had caused a painful pressure on that part of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid is produced. It is the translucent fluid keeping the brain in buoyant state. The hind quarter of her brain visible poked out of the bae of her skull.
Raising more concerns
Neuralink went through severe scrutiny and criticisms that the company was rushing and botching surgeries on monkeys, pigs and sheep, resulting in more animal deaths than necessary.
In one instance in 2021, the compay implanted 25 out of 60 pigs with the wrong-sized devices. All the pigs were subsequently killed – an error that employees said could have been easily avoided with more preparation. As Musk pressured staff to receive FDA approval, the firm was rushing experiments, causing additional suffering and deaths of pigs, sheep and monkeys.
Now as Neuralink received FDA clearance to have human trails, and the startup had grown to that stage of building its own space for lab and experiments, it’s unclear that what will be the consequences of the brain-chip implant in coming days. Since the firm is backed by the richest person in the world and managed to build space for its experiments, it would be easy for them to conceal what’s happening.
Indeed, as of several weeks ago, the FDA had not inspected Neuralink over its laboratory practices, according to FDA records and a Neuralink employee, Reuters reports.
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