- Elon Musk’s brain chip company Neuralink is under federal investigation of animal welfare abuse, reported Reuters.
- The company has reportedly killed roughly 1,500 animals since 2018, and many deaths were allegedly avoidable.
- Employees told Reuters they felt rushed due to Musk’s pressure-cooker work environment, leading to careless errors.
Elon Musk’s brain chip company might be causing another problem for the billionaire as he balances running multiple companies, including Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX.
Reuters reported that Neuralink is under federal investigation for concerns about animal welfare by the US Department of Agriculture.
Twenty former and current employees of the health tech company told Reuters that Musk’s pressure cooker work environment has caused staffers to feel rushed, making careless errors while testing and resulting in more animal suffering and deaths.
Since 2018, roughly 1,500 animals, including sheep, pigs, and monkeys, have been killed during Neuralink testing, according to the report.
While many companies tests on animals before humans to bring new products to the market, Neuralink employees told Reuters that the company had made several reckless errors involving incorrect surgical glue or the wrong-size brain chip, which caused scientists to have to kill those animals and start experiments over again. Reuters could not determine whether the federal probe involved the same alleged issues with animal testing that it found by talking to employees.
Multiple workers reportedly said Musk told them to imagine a bomb was strapped to their heads to get them to move quicker.
“We are simply not moving fast enough. It is driving me nuts,” he reportedly wrote to staffers earlier this year.
Representatives from Neuralink and the US Department of Agriculture did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neuralink has passed all USDA inspections of its facilities, Reuters reports.
Neuralink was founded by Musk and a group of scientists and engineers in 2016 to develop brain chips that would allow computers to read brain signals. Last week, Musk announced that it plans to begin human clinical trials next year and said he would try the brain chip device himself.
Despite the pressure many employees reportedly have felt working at Neuralink, Musk had reportedly told at least one former employee that he disliked using animals for research and said he wanted them to be “the happiest animals” while alive.
Neuralink has faced allegations of animal abuse in the past. Earlier this year, an animal-rights group accused the company’s researchers of subjecting monkeys to “extreme suffering” while testing brain implants.
In one example of incidents the group provided, a monkey was allegedly missing fingers and toes “possibly from self-mutilation” after an experiment.