Elon Musk Is Tapping Monkey Brains, and He’s Not Alone

Elon Musk’s brain-tapping venture Neuralink paid the National Primate Center at UC Davis $796,006 to conduct research on some 2,530 rhesus macaques and titi monkeys.

This came after a failed attempt to transform Neuralink’s San Francisco headquarter into an animal testing facility. They went as far as attaining a permit from the California Department of Public Health to keep and use laboratory mice and rats. Check out a copy of the permit obtained by Gizmodo here.

Many suspect Neuralink’s city location wasn’t big enough (or secretive enough) for the brain implant venture. Plus, research would need to be done on animals with bigger brains. Rodents simply don’t have enough brain folds to mimic humans brain activity. The Davis monkeys provide the isolation and brain size Neuralink needs.

But Musk isn’t the only one tapping a connection between animals and our keyboards. The digital animal research field is so big that even space agencies are signing onto the project.

The International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS) launches this August and will track hundreds of thousands of animals by 2028. The computers held at the International Space Station will follow 3.5-gram solar power tags on the animals using 3D imaging. Sensors read temperature, humidity, pressure, and altitude, then beam it back down to Earth.

The current version of ICARUS isn’t in orbit, but it powers a new discipline for studying animal behavior called movement ecology. Animal Tracker shows how 20 different species move around the globe, and they promise more soon. But not all researchers are pro putting cameras in the jungle. They fear the stress these devices have on animals, and rightfully so. After all, animals can’t just tape over their mics.