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Cool! Rat controlled cars!

By 06/10/2010No Comments

I am a big fan of Ray Kurzweil. The tech thinker fascinates me now for years with his projections on a society where humans and machines become more and more interdependent, interconnected… and eventually soft merge. Computers and AI units that play chess, write poetry… they are here, and they are here now. Augmented reality vision, voice control, laser-tracking, bionics… it’s getting there. The Singularity, Kurzweils point of a machine/human symbiosis does not seem that far away.

An article on drew my attention. Everyone knows that robotics is big in Japan, but a team of smart  wizards at the University of Tokyo pulled of a real  robotic masterpiece by making a hybrid robot. A technical body, guided by a living brain. Welcome Robocop!

They constructed RatCar, a –I kid you not- real brain-machine interface. It uses the operating unit (ok the brain) of a rat, to control the electric motors of a mechanical robot.  The robot goes where the rats brain thinks it should go. Brain controlling matter and soft humming electronics…

I can imagine lots of ethic thinkers, animal right organizations and fundamental conservatives now cry wolf. Is this going too far? Do we pass ethical boundaries we should not? Is neuro-controlling a way of the future? Can it help locked-in people, whose body is deficient but who do have a full working brain?

Maybe it’s a bit early to tell… but RatCar shows it can be done. I’ll back Kurzweil on this one: I think it’s great. When I grow up, I want to be a Spaceship…

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