March 03, 2016
A group of Chinese scientists created a cyborg rat that is extremely efficient at solving mazes; outperforming regular rats and, in some cases, even machines in test
The robot rat was created by implanting electrodes in its brain and mounting a wireless micro-stimulator on its back. These devices allowed a computer to communicate remotely with the rat, helping it assess the shortest path to take in a maze, avoid dead ends and navigate loops. Rather than remote-controlling the rat, the computer instead provided the rat with hints designed to help it make decisions.
Instead of artificial intelligence, this type of work aims for “augmented” or “cyborg” intelligence, which brings together the brainpower of animals and the computing power of machines. Eventually, scientists want to study the potential use of combined machine and biological intelligence in scenarios such as search-and-rescue operations, and to replace body parts, creating “upgraded” humans.