November 9, 2013

Teaching kids to be neuroscientists... or psychokillers... you decide.

At Metafilter:
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?

8 comments:

rhhardin said...

That vat just there is you.

Cavell.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "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? "

Some Hear the Voices Louder Than Others. Those Who Exist Under the Floor Know You Better Than You Know Yourself.



betamax3000 said...

I Do Not Know the Reason for Many of the Things I Do, But I Know Who Does.

betamax3000 said...

The Concept of Privacy Changes When There Are Always Voices in Your Head.

betamax3000 said...

Those Who Exist Under the Floor Choose You, You Do Not Get to Choose Them.

wildswan said...

I've been told that there is parasite that gets on the back of cockroaches and drills into their brains. Then it sends signals to the brain which cause the cockroach to run into the den of the parasite where it stays till the parasite hatches its young which then eat the roach. (no, NSA, this science, not a metaphor for the US voter/ taxpayer facing Chelsea Clinton. I don't think Americans are roaches.) I've never known whether this was urban legend or science. But the above story suggests the story I heard was science and that now science has taken another step. But why should it be the young controlling the old - why not just the parasites, the "chelseas", so to speak - controlling the "roaches" until some "roach" invents a "parasite controller", the Madame DeFarge Cleaner?

Rusty said...

It's a fucking cockroach!

Jack Wayne said...

I guess those ethicists never tied a thread to the leg of a June bug and flew it like a motorized kite.......