Our new cyborg insect overlords

Tom James @ 14-07-2009

livesilkmothContinuing the robotic insect theme: researchers in Japan are developing the means to recreate the brains of insects in electronic circuits and thus modify existing insect brains to perform useful tasks, like finding narcotics, and earthquake victims:

In an example of ‘rewriting’ insect brain circuits, Kanzaki’s team has succeeded in genetically modifying a male silkmoth so that it reacts to light instead of odour, or to the odour of a different kind of moth.

Such modifications could pave the way to creating a robo-bug which could in future sense illegal drugs several kilometres away, as well as landmines, people buried under rubble, or toxic gas, the professor said.

Kanzaki also observes how remarkably adaptable biological organisms are:

“Humans walk only at some five kilometres per hour but can drive a car that travels at 100 kilometres per hour. It’s amazing that we can accelerate, brake and avoid obstacles in what originally seem like impossible conditions,” he said.

Our brain turns the car into an extension of our body,” he said, adding that “an insect brain may be able to drive a car like we can. I think they have the potential.

It certainly raises interesting questions about how to achieve intelligent machinery: why reinvent the wheel creating strong AI? We can reverse engineer animals that fly or hunt then adapt them to our purposes.

[from Physorg][image from Physorg]

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One Response to “Our new cyborg insect overlords”

  1. Jetse says:

    Interesting post.

    “It certainly raises interesting questions about how to achieve intelligent machinery: why reinvent the wheel creating strong AI? We can reverse engineer animals that fly or hunt then adapt them to our purposes.”

    Well, I think there are more ways that lead to Rome. I certainly am not against copying and modifying (that’s what the article seems to be saying, not reverse-engineering, although I’m alos not against that, either) animals for AI purposes.

    However, if we reinvent the wheel and fins out how intelligence *really* works, then our understanding will be much deeper and the long term advantages multitudes bigger.