Elon Musk, Neuralink and the horrifying death of test monkeys: What’s the truth?

While the X chief earlier this month had claimed that no test monkey had died due to a Neuralink implant, an alarming report from Wired suggests otherwise.

| Updated on: Sep 21 2023, 13:36 IST
Elon Musk says blocking feature on X ‘makes no sense’ to him
1/7 Elon Musk, the CEO of X (formerly known as Twitter), has tweeted that he wants to eliminate the platform's 'block' feature. Musk made this decision in response to a query from a user, where he sought user opinions on the preference between muting and blocking. (Bloomberg)
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2/7 In a recent post on X (formerly Twitter), Musk clarified that the blocking feature will be discontinued, except for direct messages, while muting will remain an available option. (Bloomberg)
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3/7 On Friday, Musk shared a message, stating, "The 'block' feature is being completely removed, except for its use in direct messages. It simply doesn't make sense," commented the billionaire. (REUTERS)
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4/7 Muting vs. blocking: According to a report by Bloomberg, muting an account will still allow users to avoid seeing posts from that account. However, muted accounts will retain the ability to respond to the user's posts, share them with their own followers, add commentary, and send direct messages. (AFP)
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5/7 User concerns: Blocking, which has long served as a fundamental security measure on X, has raised concerns among users about potential increases in online harassment following its removal. (Pexels)
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6/7 One user reacted to Musk's tweet and replied, "Don’t go there. No one is entitled to other people’s posts. People should be able to block whoever they want". (Pexels)
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7/7 A series of transformations: Some of the significant alterations implemented under Musk's leadership include substantial workforce reductions, replacing the traditional verification program with the $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription, rebranding the company from Twitter to X, and introducing new features such as live streaming. (AP)
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Elon Musk’s Neuralink will commence human trials soon, but questions over its testing of primates remain. (REUTERS)

Neuralink, Elon Musk's neurotechnology company on Tuesday announced that it would be commencing human trials soon after getting FDA approval a few months ago. For a study, called ‘PRIME Study', which is expected to last 6 years, the company is recruiting test subjects with a specific focus on people with quadriplegia, a form of paralysis which affects people from the neck down. However, the company has been in deep waters this month with questions over the nature of the death of Neuralink's test monkeys. While Musk earlier this month had claimed on X that no test monkey had died due to a Neuralink implant, an alarming report from Wired suggests otherwise.

Neuralink's test monkeys: Cause of death

Documents that were already available in the public domain were obtained by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). According to an alarming Wired report, as many as a dozen of Neuralink's test monkeys had to be euthanized after contracting health issues such as partial paralysis, swelling of the brain, and bloody diarrhea. The report further reveals that a male monkey had to be euthanized in March 2020 after his cranial implant became loose, although it expressly states that the implant's failure was due to a mechanical issue.

Another test subject, called Animal 15, had to be euthanized after the primate started banging its head against the wall for no apparent reason. In another case, a piece of the implant broke off during the surgical procedure which led to the primate scratching the surgical site repeatedly. Although the implant was fixed during a later procedure, the animal had to be euthanized as it contracted fungal and bacterial infections.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has sent a letter to the SEC claiming that Musk's statement about the test subjects was false and misleading, and the company's investors should know the truth. Ryan Merkley, who leads alternatives to animal testing at PCRM told Wired, “They are claiming they are going to put a safe device on the market, and that's why you should invest. And we see his lie as a way to whitewash what happened in these exploratory studies.”

This could give SEC another reason to start a third probe into Neuralink's animal testing, as per the report.

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First Published Date: 21 Sep, 13:26 IST