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Robotics Biotech Technology

Rat-Brained Robots Take Their First Steps 289

missb writes "Brain tissue cultured from rats has controlled a wheeled robot around a lab, according to New Scientist this week. Researchers in the UK have harnessed signals from thousands of disembodied rat neurons, and manipulated them to get a robot to respond to instructions. The team at the University of Reading in the UK hope their research will help provide treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's and epilepsy."
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Rat-Brained Robots Take Their First Steps

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  • Re:What in the... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:33PM (#24588613)

    Anonymous Coward here. No reason to be rude. I read the article. What I don't understand is why they need to be connected to robots. It just seems like Alzheimer's is a secondary goal here, since I'm sure they could do experiments about training neurons to respond to stimuli that are less costly.

    I'm even fine with them hooking the robot up to an ultrasound. What I don't understand is the need for them to build a bluetooth robot to process the results. It seems silly.

  • Re:Er.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GrievousMistake ( 880829 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:39PM (#24588733)

    Article says 300,000, a bit more than the average fruit fly []
    You can do a lot with quite few neurons, too. You don't really need to 'parse' the input, just simple fuzzy logic, something like "if we're close to a wall in one direction, swing to the other." Using even 3,000 neurons to do what you could do by hardwiring a couple of resistors from the prox. sensors to the wheel engines would be a criminal waste.
    Ever played Bug Brain, BTW? Wicked fun!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:18PM (#24589309)

    Cordwainer Smith had laminated rat's brains being used as sentient computers, in stories written in the early 70's.

  • Robotic Slavery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:29PM (#24589453) Journal
    just as we cast off our own faith in our gods, cursing them and labeling them as myths, our own creations, built in our own image, will inevitably do the same. The only question is this: will our robots succeed in destroying us, or will we succeed in destroying them?

    I don't know if it is a question of destruction or of domination. Will we create a race of AI robots for the sole purpose of enslaving them? If we have the relationship with our robots of Creator/Creation will that make us slave owners once AI achieves sentience? Look at robotic factories, the work long hours for no pay and are modified or replaced or sold at the whim of their owner, if you did that with a person they would be a slave. Of course they are machines not people so it is just a factory not slavery. But if those robots where sentient would it change the moral argument. If that argument concludes that it would in fact be slavery, is there any reason to build AI robots if we cannot treat them as slaves? I don't want to have to allow my Roomba the freedom to go work for someone else, or the right to be paid for it's work.
  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) * <> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:19PM (#24591193)
    I know this is a little off topic but, I Googled "Phn'glui M'gl wna'f, Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgha Nagl Ftaghn" the second listing was from the parent post above! Indexed by Google about 90 min. after it was posted. Forget welcoming our Rat brained overlords, better watch out for our all knowing Google Overlords.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie