Elon Musk's Neuralink Faces Securities Fraud Allegations Amid Primate Deaths Controversy
Allegations of securities fraud have emerged against Elon Musks Neuralink over primate deaths. A medical ethics group calls for an SEC investigation into misleading claims.
New Allegations of Securities Fraud Surround Elon Musk's Neuralink Amidst Primate Deaths Controversy
In a recent development, fresh allegations of potential securities fraud have emerged, casting a cloud of uncertainty over Elon Musk and his biotech startup, Neuralink. These allegations stem from statements made by Musk concerning the deaths of primates utilized for research purposes at Neuralink, triggering concerns about the veracity of his claims. A medical ethics group has now entered the fray, sending letters to top officials at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), urging them to initiate an investigation into Musk's assertions.
Musk initially acknowledged the deaths of macaques involved in Neuralink trials on September 10, responding to a user on his social networking platform, X (formerly Twitter). In his response, Musk vehemently denied that any of the primate deaths could be attributed to Neuralink implants. He asserted that the research subjects were already "close to death" and insinuated that the deaths were unrelated to the implantation procedures. However, the medical ethics group, relying on veterinary records, contends that the deaths were, in fact, a result of complications arising from the implant procedures.
Public records examined by WIRED, coupled with interviews with a former Neuralink employee and a current researcher at the University of California, Davis primate center, paint a starkly different picture of Neuralink's animal research practices. These documents include veterinary records, previously disclosed last year, that depict harrowing accounts of suffering endured by up to a dozen of Neuralink's primate subjects, all of which ultimately had to be euthanized. These records could potentially form the foundation for an SEC investigation into Musk's comments concerning Neuralink.
The letters addressed to the SEC are from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating live animal testing. The group contends that Musk's statements regarding the primate deaths were misleading, alleging that he was aware of their falsity. They argue that investors deserve to know the truth about the safety and marketability of Neuralink's speculative product.
Ryan Merkley, who leads the Physicians Committee's research into alternatives to animal testing, stated, "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."
It is worth noting that Musk's post on X regarding Neuralink's monkeys garnered over 760,000 views. The Physicians Committee highlights in its letters that, during the SEC's 2018 securities fraud charges against Musk related to Tesla, the agency argued that Musk's social media account served as a source of investor news. Consequently, the SEC holds jurisdiction over the sale of securities, including those offered by privately held firms such as Neuralink. Recent filings indicate that Neuralink has attracted over $280 million in investments from external sources.
Despite WIRED's request for comment, the SEC declined to provide a statement regarding the Physicians Committee's letters. Furthermore, Neuralink did not respond to specific inquiries concerning Musk's claims or the allegations put forth by the Physicians Committee.
Neuralink, founded in March 2017, swiftly acquired a substantial number of animal subjects within its first year of operation to facilitate testing of its brain-chip implants. From September 2017 until late 2020, the company collaborated with the staff of the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), a federally funded bioresearch facility situated at UC Davis. Musk's ambitious vision for Neuralink was to revolutionize prostheses and engineer implants capable of enabling direct wireless communication between human brains and artificial devices, potentially even allowing brains to communicate with one another.
In conclusion, the latest allegations of securities fraud surrounding Elon Musk and Neuralink have raised significant concerns within the investment community and the medical ethics sphere. As the SEC considers the implications of the Physicians Committee's letters, the controversy surrounding primate deaths and the veracity of Musk's statements looms large, potentially impacting Neuralink's pursuit of its groundbreaking brain-computer interface technology for humans.