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August 14, 2008

Just What We Needed: World's First Cyborg Has Rat-Brain

Scientists had planned to use sheep's brains for the robotic-organic hybrid, but decided "That's just not creepy enough."

It's pretty much quotable in full, but I can't do that, so here's a little.

Meet Gordon, probably the world's first robot controlled exclusively by living brain tissue.

Stitched together from cultured rat neurons, Gordon's primitive grey matter was designed at the University of Reading by scientists who unveiled the neuron-powered machine on Wednesday.

Their groundbreaking experiments explore the vanishing boundary between natural and artificial intelligence, and could shed light on the fundamental building blocks of memory and learning, one of the lead researchers told AFP.

...

"Now we are looking at how best to teach it to behave in certain ways," explained Warwick.

To some extent, Gordon learns by itself. When it hits a wall, for example, it gets an electrical stimulation from the robot's sensors. As it confronts similar situations, it learns by habit.

...

Gordon, in fact, has multiple personalities -- several MEA "brains" that the scientists can dock into the robot.

"It's quite funny -- you get differences between the brains," said Warwick. "This one is a bit boisterous and active, while we know another is not going to do what we want it to."

Mainly for ethical reasons, it is unlikely that researchers at Reading or the handful of laboratories around the world exploring the same terrain will be using human neurons any time soon in the same kind of experiments.

Uh-huh.

"I've been waiting my whole life to see the first rat-brained Frankenbot!" exclaimed no one at all.

In related news, scientists said "Flyin' car? Oh yeah, we have one right here, parked in the Go Fuck Yourself hangar."

They then added, "Oh, and here are the Invisible Keys for your Invisible Flyin' Car. You know how to use the special Invisible Keys, right? You just hold them, ball your hand into a fist, and stick them straight up your ass. Vroom vroom."

Thanks to Arthur.


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posted by Ace at 05:19 PM

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