After a TED Talk demonstration and a successful Kickstarter, Backyard Brains plans to release a kit instructing kids to strap a miniature backpack to cockroaches and insert electrodes into its brain, allowing the cockroach to be controlled by a smartphone app. Some scientists are less than pleased with the ethics of the project.
At the "less than pleased" link, BBC quotes a Backyard Brains spokeswoman, who says they're trying to get kids interested in the "woefully under-taught" subject of neuroscience, which is "crucially important... especially... when diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's take a heavier toll within society."
That "heavier toll" presumably refers to the aging Baby Boomers, who are going to be hard to handle as our brains fail, and wouldn't it be nice if insect-trained youngsters one day implant devices into our brain that can be used to keep us moving about — going to the bathroom, bathing, dressing, getting in and out of chairs and beds — on the force of whatever is left of our own atrophying muscles instead of needing to do the physical work themselves?
Everyone will be a winner, as we feel independent despite senility, and the younger folks can avoid having to touch us and listen to our nonsense. They can be in another room, feeling like they're playing a video game. And so what if they prank us? We'll imagine that we are sprightly, enlivened by impish silliness. Oh, I don't know what just got into me!
And of course, there's the old philosophical problem: How do you know that isn't already what life is, with some devil moving you this way and that, putting ideas into your head?