Monkey with brain implants controls robot arm.

Everybody else is talking about it so I figured I would too. Researchers have managed a big breakthrough in robotic prosthetic research with a couple of monkeys that are able to control robotic arms using brain power alone. Implants wired into the brains of the monkeys give them the ability to move the robotic arms, but the monkeys were still moving their real arms while doing it, until recently when the monkeys figured out they didn’t need to move their real arms to make the robotic arms do their bidding.

This is particularly amusing to me as awhile back I tried to get some friends together to play a little Champions pen and paper role playing game where you get to design your own superhero. Guest Bastard Eric was one of the participants and his super character was called “Monkey Boy.” MB consisted of a team of three monkeys who spent most of their time living inside a Robotic Man Suit as their “secret identity,” but could pop out and make use of their individual powers when it came time to fight evil doers. It was a bizarre concept (and awfully difficult to translate into game terms), but it appears science is once step closer to making such a thing possible.

3 thoughts on “Monkey with brain implants controls robot arm.

  1. This is a topic i find particular intrest in, because it is so facinating. Basically the line between machine and human.

    Ethics aside – It is no question that mankind soon will be able to integrate machines into our own systems. It is being done already, even thought it gathers few headlines.

    Microphones have succesfully been linked to the hearing nerves, giving deaf people back a certain sense of hearing. And the first replacable eyes have already been manufactured, giving blind people back a vision of a few pixels every way.

    While these might seem crude now, so have every new tech been in its infant steps, but given time it will evolve and become better and better. I would not be surprised if a few decades we are able to “fix” peoples hearing and vision by use of electronic integration.

    Then the question becomes “Why stop there?”. If you can hook any kind of tv cam to your eyes, you can also give that tv cam more powers. Infrared sight? Light/dark adjustment? Vivid colors? Anything which you can encode digitally and connect to a nerve can be forwarded and sendt to the brain. Or how about an ear that has an integrated radio/cellphone system attatched.

    It might be a monkey today.. But heck.. the first thing in space was a dog.

    I guess the biggest thing to fear is when they start with spam and commercials on your ear-radio….

  2. This gives me great hope that my dream of having a monkey-butler will come true. It will basically be a regular monkey, with a robotic brain, that way I can manipulate the monkey with just thinking to make it do whatever I want. Muwahhaha!

  3. I am actually pretty surprised.  I’ve been wondering how long it would take for “real” cybernetic prosthetics to become feasable.  I always figured it would be another 100 years, but it looks like the time frame on it might only be another twenty years or so.

    And as for the spammers spamming your built in eye-TV and ear-radio, that’s very W. Gibson. But if it gives you perfect vision, constant weather updates, and digital video playback on demand, a little spam is a small price to pay.

    Hmm.  XM satellite radio built into your skull.  Now THAT would be cool.  I can’t wait.

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