If you’ve ever doubted the possibility of a future crowded with Verhoeven-esque, dystopic cyborgs, think again. Scientists have made an integral step towards fulfilling one of our wildest sci-fi fantasies: they’ve successfully implanted an artificial cerebellum into the brain of a rat.
Far from normal brain surgery, this synthetic cerebellum, designed by Matti Mintz, professor of psychobiology, with help from researchers at Tel Aviv University, is a microchip attached to the rat’s head that reads sensory input from the brain stem and sends information to neurotransmitters in other parts of the brain.
Standing in as its new cerebellum, the microchip successfully signaled the rat to blink, which is a little creepy for all that’s impressive about it. The synthetic cerebellum was able to receive information from one part of the brain and send it back to another. This is a huge advance from previous brain-computer augmentations, like the kind “cyborg” Kevin Warwick uses, as well as old fashioned cybernetic gear, like insulin pumps, artificial limbs, etc., which only send information one way.
While we may be far from having our Miranda rights read to us by gun-bending Robocops or having to send Terminators through time to assassinate the mother of the future son of the human resistance, scientists are getting a greater sense of the potential for self-regulating human-machine systems.
The capabilities of this sort of advancement mean incredible breakthroughs in the fields of medicine, the military and reality television. Today’s cyborg rat is tomorrow’s true story…of eight invincible, microchip-brained soldiers…picked to live in a spaceship…work together and have their lives taped…to find out what happens…when cyborgs stop being polite and start being cyborgs.