Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chips begin human trials despite alleged animal cruelty

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulNov 08, 2023 | 17:32

Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chips begin human trials despite alleged animal cruelty

Elon Musk's venture into the realm of brain-machine interfaces with Neuralink is on the verge of a significant milestone, as the company prepares to conduct human trials. Thousands of volunteers are eager to participate in these trials, despite initial concerns and controversies surrounding the treatment of test subjects, particularly monkeys.


Neuralink Corp, founded by Musk, is at the forefront of developing brain implants that have the potential to revolutionize human-computer interaction.


Their experimental technology involves the insertion of a device into a person's brain to facilitate the seamless transmission of thoughts and brain activity to external devices such as laptops or tablets.

Imagine willingly volunteering to have a robot carve out a piece of your skull, then play electrician by sticking a bunch of electrodes and superthin wires into your brain. What do you get in return? A quarter-sized computer embedded in your noggin that's supposed to stay there for years, acting as your personal brain-to-tech translator.

Human trials

  • This groundbreaking endeavor, an adult under the age of 40 with complete limb paralysis due to spinal cord injury or ALS is considered an ideal candidate. 
  • This lucky individual will have Neuralink's implant planted into their premotor cortex's hand-knob area – the part of the brain that controls your high fives and thumbs-up gestures. 
  • The mission? To prove that this cybernetic implant can safely capture all those fascinating thoughts running through your head and beam them wirelessly to your favorite gadget.

Sure, other companies have been dabbling in brain-machine interfaces, allowing people to click things with their minds. But Neuralink? They're promising a supposedly wild future. 


After the procedure, you'd stroll out as a human-machine hybrid, capable of downloading knowledge like Neo from The Matrix or sending your thoughts into the digital ether. Musk even hinted at achieving symbiosis with artificial intelligence.


However, Neuralink has not been without its share of skepticism and concerns. 

The company's promises have raised eyebrows in the scientific community, with some neuroscientists questioning the feasibility of achieving such lofty goals. 

But more importantly, animal-rights groups have raised concerns about the treatment of test subjects, particularly monkeys and pigs that have been involved in the company's experiments. The treatment of these animals has been criticized as cruel, and it has prompted discussions about ethical considerations and the safety of the technology.

Monkey trials

The specifics of these cases are disturbing and have led to questions about the welfare of the test subjects.

  • A monkey, "Animal 20," had an internal part of the brain implant break off during surgery, leading to further complications, infection, and ultimately euthanization. 
  • Another monkey, "Animal 15," exhibited distressing behavior after receiving the implant, including head pressing, bleeding, and a loss of coordination, resulting in euthanization due to brain bleeding. 
  • A primate called "Animal 22" had its brain implant become loose, with screws that could easily be lifted out, ultimately leading to euthanization.

The show goes on

Still, it seems people are undeterred by the monkey business. 

Despite these concerns, Neuralink has recently received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with human trials. The trials are set to commence soon, with the aim of proving the device's effectiveness in helping individuals with neurological disorders regain control and autonomy.

Thousands are lining up to be among the first to test-drive Neuralink's brain implant technology. Musk's biographer, Ashlee Vance, reports that there's a genuine outpouring of interest from eager volunteers.

Last updated: November 08, 2023 | 17:32
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