- An animal-rights group says UC Davis has 371 photos showing Neuralink’s experiments on monkeys.
- The organization sued the university and filed a complaint with the USDA in February.
- UC Davis and Neuralink have refuted the claims that its test animals experienced “extreme suffering.”
An animal-rights group that is suing the University of California, Davis over experiments conducted for Neuralink says the university has 371 photos related to experiments on monkeys that were performed for Elon Musk’s biotech company.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said UC Davis has 185 pictures related to the autopsies of animals that died during Neuralink experiments and another 186 photos of the experiments that were performed on the monkeys, which included cutting holes into the monkeys’ skulls to implant electrodes into their brains.
The group said they learned of the photos through a legal document from UC Davis dated September 7, 2022. Between 2017 and 2020, Neuralink paid the university $1.4 million to use UC Davis’ facilities and animals for testing, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said. .
“UC Davis thinks the public is too stupid to know what they’re looking at,” Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy with the Physicians Committee, said in a press release. “But it’s clear the university is simply trying to hide from taxpayers the fact that it partnered with Elon Musk to conduct experiments in which animals suffered and died.”
A spokesperson from Neuralink did not respond to a request for comment and a UC Davis spokesperson referred Insider to a previous statement. In February, the institution said “research protocols were thoroughly reviewed and approved by the campus’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee” during the institution’s work with Neuralink.
“Animal research is strictly regulated and UC Davis follows all applicable laws and regulations including those of the US Department of Agriculture,” the statement said.
UC Davis issued the statement after the animal-rights group sued the university for not releasing photos and videos of the experiments it has performed for Neuralink from 2017 to 2020. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also filed a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture, alleging the institution had violated the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton previously reported that the group said it had obtained records showing the monkeys experienced “extreme suffering as a result of inadequate animal care and the highly invasive experimental head implants during the experiments.”
At the time, Neuralink responded to the accusations, denying several of the injuries that the animal rights group reported and saying the company is “absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible.” The company said it has since transitioned to using its own in-house facilities.
Ultimately, Neuralink is working to develop a computer brain interface system that would be able to read and write brain activity. In the past, Musk has claimed the AI brain chips would one day be able to do anything from cure paralysis to give people telepathic powers, referring to the device as “a Fitbit in your skull.”
Last year, the billionaire said the company plans to transition from implanting the chips in monkeys to humans by the end of the year, but the device has yet to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to begin human trials.