First Real Cyborg: A Robot Controlled By A Living Brain

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Do you really want a deadly robotic chassis being controlled by the brain of a rat? Scientists at University of Reading do. They've connected a biological "brain" made of rat neurons to a robot, with a two-way link.

It gets more demented: the robot is controlled via a Bluetooth connection — which means anybody with a cellphone can probably hack its little rat cortex — and the brain is kept inside a bell jar, just like Sylvia Plath's. The rat neurons can send instructions to the robot body, but they can also get signals back. And it has a personality, say researchers:

According to Kevin Warwick, one of the researchers, "It's quite funny - you get differences between the brains. This one is a bit boisterous and active, while we know another is not going to do what we want it to." Warwick later speculates that much of the difference between rat and human brains lies in the number of neurons and not the neurons themselves. Picking on that particular statement, since I think it's a pretty bold claim, you have to wonder about animals like whales and elephants who have one to two times the number of neurons we do. If he's right and it's the number of neurons that makes the difference, we are literally killing sentient beings. Of course, to the people who are killing blue whales and elephants, that doesn't matter one bit.

[Mendicant Bug, thanks Chris!]