U.S lawmakers have urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate Elon Musk for making allegedly false statements about animal testing of a surgically implanted brain chip developed by Musk’s neurotechnology startup Neuralink.
In a letter to the SEC on 21 November, four members of the U.S. House of Representatives pushed the regulators to investigate whether Musk committed securities fraud by misleading investors about the safety of the brain implant and its role in the deaths of at least 12 monkeys, according to separate reports by Reuters and Wired.
Neuralink was rushing and botching surgeries on animals, more than a dozen Neuralink employees allege, in an effort to progress more quickly to human testing.
The allegations come as Neuralink prepares to test the brain implant in humans for the first time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2023 granted Neuralink approval to conduct human testing, according to Neuralink. The green light came after the agency initially rejected Neuralink’s request in early 2022, according to an investigation by Reuters.
Neuralink’s experimental device aims to give users a way to communicate directly with a computer using only their thoughts—a technology known as brain-computer interface, or BCI. The chip can record brain signals and transmit them to an external app that decodes them into computer commands such as controlling a computer cursor or keyboard. The implant is smaller than a quarter, contains over 1,000 electrode channels, and is placed in the brain by a surgical robot.
In preparing for human trials, Neuralink demonstrated its device, to much fanfare, in monkeys, pigs, and sheep. But a wide range of people have sounded alarms about the company’s approach to testing animals and the safety of the device.
More than a dozen Neuralink employees told Reuters that Neuralink was rushing and botching surgeries on animals in an effort to progress more quickly to human testing. Members of the U.S. Congress have urged federal agencies to scrutinize the company over its animal studies. And the animal welfare advocacy group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says it has been writing to lawmakers and federal agencies about Neuralink for nearly two years.
“There’s an incredible push by Neuralink to bypass the conventional research world, and there’s little interaction with academics, as if they think that we’re on the wrong track.”
—Nick Ramsey, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands
BCI researchers outside of Neuralink also express concerns, telling IEEE Spectrum that Neuralink seems to be moving too secretly and too fast. “I think what concerns people is that Neuralink could be cutting corners, and so far nobody has stopped them,” says Nick Ramsey, a clinical neuroscientist at University Medical Center Utrecht, in the Netherlands. “There’s an incredible push by Neuralink to bypass the conventional research world, and there’s…
Read full article: Neuralink Barrels Into Human Tests Despite Fraud Claims
The post “Neuralink Barrels Into Human Tests Despite Fraud Claims” by Emily Waltz was published on 12/06/2023 by spectrum.ieee.org