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Remote controlled rats?

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You may have already seen this mentioned on /. but currently there is an article on CNN's Science and Technology page. The article is about the recent results of a team of scientists who have recently developed what could be coined as "remote-control rats". Details are in the article, but here we are seeing the first significant melding of technology into behavioral conditioning (something humans have been doing with animals for eons). Rather than using rewards (food, praise, etc) to encourage specific behaviors in animals, scientists have wired electrodes directly into the brains of their test subjects to stimulate the pleasure center. Additional electrodes into other areas of the brain provide cues to the animal, replacing traditional cues (verbal commands, for example).

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Very interesting research. I expect PETA to protest it loudly, though.

Your rating: None

Don't they protest everything loudly?

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Rat Terminator units?

"I'll Be Back"

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Poor rats:(

Melissa "MelSkunk" Drake

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Yeah, but that's the thing, they're rewarded with endorphins, and it looks like no negative punishment is used. They're just given a mental candy bar for following directions.

I just hope their lives are valued if they're used in search-and-rescue operations. They're NOT little robots you can throw away, they're smart, empathic little critters who're putting their lives on the line. (And no, I haven't seen Secret of NIMH too many times, I just like rats.)

Hopefully this chip won't compel them to go against the natural signals of pain, fatigue or fear. If that is not done, and if they are valued as living beings beyond their direct use in performing human-directed tasks, then it looks a-OK to me.

Your rating: None

I just hope their lives are valued if they're used in search-and-rescue operations. They're NOT little robots you can throw away, they're smart, empathic little critters who're putting their lives on the line.

Rescue dogs are treated well. I don't know why handlers would feel any different about these guys. (Assuming they use handlers that like rats. ;) ) Besides, you wouldn't want to treat them as disposable because they take time and money to implant electrodes in, and train. It's not like you can just let them breed and be done with it.

Hopefully this chip won't compel them to go against the natural signals of pain, fatigue or fear.

I doubt it would...at least, no more than you could get any animal to go against those things by giving it orders. Remember, they only follow what the chip tells them to do because they've been trained to, it's not directly controlling their muscles. Besides, having them go against feelings of pain would be extremely counterproductive -- you don't want them to go into a situation that would cause them to be disabled.

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About the author

Feren (Jason Olsen)read storiescontact (login required)

    a network engineer and Black panther from Chicago, Illinois, interested in furry literature, art, and camaros

    Sometimes network engineer. Sometimes coder. Sometimes ranting editorial writer.