Elon Musk's Neuralink accused of unsafely transporting infected material
Would you get a brain chip implant from this man?By Alfonso Maruccia 20 comments
In a nutshell: While Elon Musk is promising a world of chip-equipped human brains that can talk to machines, physicians are warning against the hubris of a company that seems too confident for its own good. Neuralink's business prospects are filling up with monkey blood and dangerous pathogens.
Neuralink is planning to start its first human trails soon, and Elon Musk has said the brain-to-machine interface made by his company will let people stream music directly into their grey matter. meanwhile, Neuralink doesn't seem capable of even following the most basic guidelines when it comes to treating potentially hazardous, biologic material coming from their highly controversial experiments.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a US non-profit organization, said Neuralink violated federal laws relating to hazardous material on multiple occasions. According to public emails obtained by PCRM, the incidents in question occurred in 2019 when Neuralink was conducting its "invasive, deadly experiments" to install implants on rhesus macaques at the University of California, Davis.
In the emails, the UC Davis staff was complaining to Neuralink about the mismanagement of hardware components of an explanted neural device, which were neither sealed nor disinfected prior to leaving the university. Federal laws require that transportation of hazardous material must provide a specific kind of packaging, with three different layers including two leakproof containers and a rigid, outer packaging material.
Medical files obtained by PCRM on the monkeys mangled by Neuralink depict an even more disturbing issue, as the aforementioned hazardous devices may have been contaminated with antibiotic-resistant pathogens including Staphylococcus and Klebsiella, which can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis, Corynebacterium ulcerans, an "emerging human pathogen" that can cause fatal diphtheria, and Herpes B, which can cause severe brain damage or death if not treated "immediately."
Neuralink's sloppy practices are putting people's lives at risk, Associate General Counsel at PCRM Deborah Dubow Press, Esq. said. For this reason, the organization asked the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to investigate Neuralink for a potential violation of federal hazmat laws. The organization also believes the DOT should investigate safety practices at California and Texas facilities where the company is still conducting its animal experiments.
Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy at PCRM, pointed out that the UC Davis incidents are yet another issue with a company that doesn't seem willing to "clean up their act." Neuralink is already being investigated by the DOJ and the Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General. In December, PCRM asked the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the company for potential violations of good laboratory practices regulations.