Forbes recently put out an article regarding Elon Musk’s Neuralink chips. As covered in previous posts here, development of the chips has involved a tremendous amount of animal suffering. Please find below some thoughts about Musk’s research and the Forbes article by philosopher David Sztybel, PhD. We have also included a link to a Vox article covering the cruelty involved in the research and why Musk’s company is being investigated for violating the U.S. Animal Welfare Act: “Neuralink shows what happens when you bring “move fast and break things” to animal research.”
From David Sztybel:
This article announces FDA approval for Elon Musk’s company Neuralink to begin human tests. The goal is to merge humans and machines to treat paralysis, loss of limbs, blindness, memory loss, and Parkinson’s disease. These notions may sound exciting. But beginning human testing is code for there having been huge numbers of vivisected animals, which is still ongoing. Yet you cannot enhance civilization by using uncivilized means. Animal research is unjust and lacking in compassion, to put the matter overly simply. It is no more ethically defensible than using for these hazardous tests people of colour – as they are called – or mentally disabled humans – as they are called. Neuralink’s animal practices are so bad, what is more, that even the conservative U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating possible animal welfare violations. Neuralink has earned notoriety in this area. There are also many issues here for the ethical treatment of humans. For instance, potentially data-mining brains as a violation of privacy. The article also makes mention of enhancing human functioning. This may be of interest to ruthless people who would wish to control other people’s brains. Arms manufacturers could try to offer killer cyborgs with enhanced memory, super-robotic limbs, precision targeting capabilities, and so on. Think of such weaponization in the hands of wealthy, powerful nations who have global ambitions. Also, not too long ago, the Nazis celebrated the possibilities of so-called “superior” Aryan human beings. There were stud farms to breed such people, and a whole mythology was glibly invented. Now suppose my reference to the Nazis is confusedly thought to be too fanciful. Racism has again become mainstream in the United States and beyond. There are public figures who are anti-black and anti-Semitic for starters. References to “the Deep State” – or the Jews – are now routine. Black people are being gunned down by police in ways largely unseen and unheard of for white people. The thing about new human powers is that their acceptability depends on who is in power within despotic corporations and failing nation-states – even ones previously thought too big to fail. Caution alone would be incautious. We must ban animal research and so continue to build up an ethical society in which sinister uses of technology becomes unthinkable – or at least undoable. Before machines can further interact with thought we urgently need people to interarct with the best thinking on these controversial problems.
The article from Forbes:
Elon Musk’s Neuralink Wants To Put Chips In Our Brains — How It Works And Who Else Is Doing It
by Robert Hart
Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain implant company, has won approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start testing its device in humans, one of a growing cadre of neurotech pioneers with goals of merging humans with machines to treat a range of medical conditions such as paralysis, blindness and depression—and enhance existing abilities like memory or allow us to interact with computers by thought alone.
The article from Vox:
Neuralink shows what happens when you bring “move fast and break things” to animal research
by Kenny Torrella
Among the many grievances people harbor toward Elon Musk, add one more: alleged animal cruelty.
Neuralink, a startup co-founded by Musk in 2016, aims to develop a brain chip implant that it claims could one day help paralyzed people walk and blind people see. But to do that, the company has first been testing its technology on animals, killing some 1,500 since 2018 — and employee whistleblowers recently told Reuters the experiments are going horribly wrong.
Reuters reported this week that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General has opened a probe into potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Neuralink. It’s a rare corrective for an agency that is generally hands-off when it comes to animal research.