I dunno. I think it could be a valid study. We have no idea what the long term implications are with neural nets, AI, machines building machines, etc. Every time we stagger blindly into the future the results are generally disastrous so a little foresight might not be so bad. And who knows what ancillary benefits may come from it? And they're a private research center so it's not like its costing the taxpayers a dime.
“There is no such thing as a weird human being. It’s just that some people require more understanding than others.” - Tom Robbins