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Ethics group calls for probe into Elon Musk's Neuralink brain implant

The group claims Musk made false statements about the safety of the device after several test monkeys died due to complications.
Ethics group calls for probe into Elon Musk's Neuralink brain implant
Posted at 1:47 PM, Sep 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-25 15:47:12-04

A national medical ethics group is calling for an investigation into Elon Musk's biotech company Neuralink following the deaths of a dozen monkeys that the brain implant was being tested on.

Neuralink is a neurotechnology company that's working to develop advanced brain-computer interfaces that enable direct communication between the human brain and external devices, such as computers. The company hopes the devices can both read and transmit information directly to and from the brain, with potential to treat neurological disorders, such as quadriplegia or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

SEE MORE: High-tech software is giving a voice to those with ALS

However, the Washington-based nonprofit organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Musk for possible securities fraud over alleged false and misleading statements he made on X about the safety of the brain-computer interface.  

Musk claimed earlier this month that "no monkey has died as a result of a Neuralink implant."

"First our early implants, to minimize risk to healthy monkeys, we chose terminal monkeys (close to death already)," he added.

However, records obtained by the Physicians Committee reveal that at least 12 previously healthy primates have been euthanized as a direct result of complications with the Neuralink implant. Additionally, the Physicians Committee claims monkeys often live for about 25 years in captivity, but the average age of the 12 that died was 7.25 years.

“It seems obvious to everyone but Elon Musk that Neuralink’s device is unsafe and dangerous,” said Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy with the Physicians Committee. “Now he is deliberately misleading investors and the public by outright lying about the company’s monkey experiments.” 

SEE MORE: Paralyzed man walks again using brain and spinal cord implants

Last year, a Reuters investigation stated that Neuralink had slaughtered some 1,500 animals that suffered from serious disorders following experiments. The Physicians Committee claims that Musk knew his comments about the animal deaths were "misleading," and that he made them to deceive investors about the safety and marketability of the implant. 

Neuralink was founded in 2017 and began experimenting on animals one year later. Musk's company has raised more than $280 million from outside investors in the years since and recently gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin limited clinical trials in humans. 

"The first human patient will soon receive a Neuralink device," Musk said last week on X. "This ultimately has the potential to restore full body movement ... Imagine if Stephen Hawking had had this." 


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