For $US100, You Can Turn A Cockroach Into Your Personal Cyborg

I don't know whether this tech is fascinating or truly horrifying. Probably a bit of both.

The Roboroach is a small kit that you attach to the back of a cockroach. By "microstimulating" the bug's antennae, you're able to literally drive the thing.

I mean, I know it's "just" a cockroach. And that the device stops working after a few minutes, as the roach adapts requiring a "reset" where it's returned to its cage. And that its creators claim that after 20 minutes the roach forgets all about it.

But science fiction is full of heroic people trying to lock up/kill those who turn unwitting subjects into mechanical slaves. Seems kind of a dick move to do it yourself, even if it's a bug.

Roboroach [Backyard Brains, via Super Punch]


    Watch out, That idiotic group known as PETA will get pissed yet again over meaningless things

      Anyone into science will not see this as meaningless. Direct manipulation and control of free will, even on a small animal, is a pretty huge thing. It might seem like it's 'meaningless' and it's 'just a cockroach right now, but when they've perfected it on a roach, they move up to say, mice, then rabbits, then a pig, then something else, eventually there will be a human test etc.

      Personally I absolutely hate PETA, but I can definitely see where there will be ethical concerns for technology such as this.

      Last edited 11/11/13 11:19 pm

        The ideal might not be misplaced, but in this instance it is. It works by stimulating antennae. Humans and mammals don't have antennae. Arthropods do. Since this technology only works on arthropods, it is essentially meaningless.

        When some sort of technology is developed that lets us control mammals, then it's a completely different story.

          The inspiration to look further into this kind of technology however, is usually inspired by smaller examples of technology such as this. I understand the complete difference between mammals and arthropods.

          The other ethical factor is of course the mistreatment of a life form. People can say 'humans have used animals for years' etc and it'd be true, however in this case, it's clearly just getting kids to be dicks to creatures for shits and giggles.

          The worst part though? Having to handle a cockroach. Ugh. lol.

          Last edited 12/11/13 1:02 am

            Perhaps. But ethics, particularly when using animals or insects is an interesting one. For instance, experiments might routinely be conducted on mice, but wont use anywhere near as many chimpanzees because the later are considered more valuable (among other things such as ease of breeding). But you can ask, how many mice are equal to a chimpanzee? If life is just life why not conduct experiments on chimpanzees rather than mice or perhaps even humans? Equally, if you would squash a cockroach the moment you saw it (killing it), is that any better or worse than torturing it for a bit (by dumping it in ice water and sanding off protective membrane?). I'm kinda curious to hear what other people think form the ethical point of view. I'm not advocating a stance either way, just tossing a couple of questions out there...

              I don't think it's a matter of which animal is more valuable but a matter of convenience. Mice are small, easy to handle, have a short life span, breed lots and fast, can be bought in bulk and are relatively inexpensive. Chimps on the other hand...
              As for humans, why would you harm/kill your own species? Also, how would you decided who gets experimented on? Have a lottery? Don't we all have equal rights?

        Agreed. Definitely not meaningless. Very far from it. Has a lot of potential applications. Cheap means to do search and recovery after disasters. Or spying. Or cockroach races (yes, there are experiments on that already, I know...) Also you can do a similar sort of thing (though a far cry from direct control in a person. By zapping a persons motor cortex, you can make their parts of their body twitch/move. There were some posts here about doing something similar. By capturing the brainwaves form a person who moves their finger and transmitting them to another person's brain via stimulation (or something, cant really remember off the top of my head), the second persons finger would move as well. If you could create an archive of signals (of what happened when making the same movement hundreds upon hundreds of times - which you can do fairly easily by say averaging a signal) you could theoretically use that to make more complex movements. A sort of mind control on the scale they are speaking of with the roboroach perhaps.

    They do have a direct stimulation system available for Humans, its called a Taser.
    A couple of quick zaps with that and its amazing what you can get people to do. Although they generally dont forget it after 20 minutes enough, memories of that little mind control encounter stay with you for life!

    Yeah because controlling their minds is so much worse than say.. slaying them and eating them. Naughty humans.

    I saw them controlling a mouse on TV years ago. Details are a bit fuzzy but basically they stimulated it's whiskers and if it turned in that direction, they stimulated the pleasure center in it's brain. It learned pretty quickly to go in the direction they were asking!

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