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Neuralink Told Its First Human Patient Not to Worry About Those Gruesome Monkey Deaths

Neuralink Told Its First Human Patient Not to Worry About Those Gruesome Monkey Deaths
Neuralink Told Its First Human Patient Not to Worry About Those Gruesome Monkey Deaths

Image by Getty / Futurism

The first patient to get a Neuralink implant had questions about the company before allowing it to cut into his skull — but his concerns, apparently, were quelled.

“I read a lot of the negative stuff about this before the surgery — about all the terrible things that [the company was] putting the monkeys through and how awful it was, monkeys like picking out their implant and rubbing it on the ground and all sorts of stuff,” Noland Arbaugh, Neuralink’s first patient, said during an all-hands meeting at the company that he later posted to X-formerly-Twitter.

After speaking with “the monkey people” at the company, however, Arbaugh says his concerns were put to rest.

“I realized how just wrong all that is,” said the 29-year-old, who has for eight years suffered from quadriplegia, or near-complete paralysis, stemming from a diving accident.

What Arbaugh was referring to, it seems, are all the reports about the horrific outcomes for the rhesus macaques Neuralink used to test its brain-computer interface (BCI) chips. It’s unclear exactly how “wrong” he could have been, given that all those grisly reports were based on real documents from the California National Primate Center at the University of California, which Neuralink contracted with to use its monkeys as test subjects until 2020.

As you might recall, those macaques suffered all manner of horrors while the Musk company tested its earliest wares on them, including brain swelling, partial paralysis, and behavioral changes that included the kind self-harm that Arbaugh referenced.

In an illuminating investigation last year, Wired reported that one of the Neuralink chips implanted into a female macaque “deformed and ruptured” her brain, leaving the monkey with “severe neurological defects” and a torturous last few days before her death.

So severe were the cases in those reports regarding Neuralink’s early days that last year, lawmakers demanded further investigation into the carnage at the company after a Department of Agriculture investigation, which concluded prior to Wired‘s shocking reporting, found only one relatively minor violation of safety standards and no animal welfare breaches.

Given his sunny demeanor and apparent Musk-stanning, Arbaugh doesn’t seem too concerned about the company’s grisly beginnings after getting assurances that all was well.

“I’m glad I asked,” Arbaugh continued during his presentation at the employee meeting, “because now anyone that asks me about it I can just say ‘Y’all are a bunch of idiots.'”

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