Musk’s Neuralink brain-computer interface (BCI) company has been in the news for positive reasons over the past year or so. The company won regulatory for a first-in-human implant in May, and in September it opened up recruitment for its clinical trial. Musk also announced in August that Neuralink brought in $280 million and the company this week added a further $43 million.
However, this isn’t the first time questions have arisen over the company, particularly around its animal practices. Reuters reported about a year ago that the U.S. government would look into Neuralink after reports of errors resulting in repeated experiments, with more animals losing their lives as a result.
Now, following a letter from U.S. lawmakers urging the SEC to look into Neuralink’s monkey deaths (reported by Wired last week), Musk denied the allegations of gruesome deaths as a result of the BCI implant.
Business Insider reported that, at The New York Times’ Dealbook conference, Musk said the test monkeys live in “monkey paradise.” He went on to say that the implant set for first-in-human testing never directly caused the death of a monkey. Previously, Musk responded to these claims by saying the company used terminally ill monkeys for early implants, stating that those monkeys died from their illness, not because of the BCI.
The controversial entrepreneur says a USDA inspector said “she has never seen a better animal care facility” following an inspection. “We are the nicest to animals you could possibly be,” Musk said, according to the Business Insider report.
Wired reported that four members of the U.S. House of Representatives alleged that Musk issued false statements around animal safety.
The lawmakers specifically refer to the deaths of 12 macaque monkeys, the animals highlighted by the PCRM. They asked SEC head Gary Gensler to launch a probe into potential securities fraud committed by Musk. The lawmakers say that Musk’s actions could have kept investors in the dark over the potential safety issues with the Neuralink implant.