Saturday, September 18, 2004

Fish-brained robot

BBC News | SCI/TECH | Fish-brained robot at Science Museum

This is not exactly new, but back in November of 2000, there was a display at the Science Museum in London UK of a robot controlled by a lamprey brain.


Blogger Dustin said...

Wow this article was a really fascinating read. Someone I know is very strongly convinced that in the near-ish future, scientists will slowly replace all of the body parts of a human (yes, a human, some crazy volunteer who has signed a hell of a lot of waivers no doubt) including the brain, and then, that this will solve the ages-old debate about whether or not a soul exists. Either the android works exactly the same as the human did, or, if it doesn't, then there is some sort of nonphysical light that has blinked out. A third possibility is that the android, having consciousness, would also have a soul, which is a bizarre idea.

Anyway, the reason I'm posting this is that replacing a fish's body with a mechanical one (I know the demonstration isn't this exactly, but it is like this) is not too far removed from replacing a human's body with a mechanical one, and as the brain is after all a physical organ, why not that too? I do agree with this person that more light would be shed on philosophical issues by such an experiment, but I personally think that, like all of those other scientific discoveries of the ages, this will merely discredit the literal interpretation of religious ideas yet more.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Allison Muri said...

The question of how "mechanical" the body can get before the soul is lost, of course, is the crucial question in much of our literature on technological monsters of various sorts. A dominant theme in cyberpunk of the eighties was that the soul can remain, and the human can remain human as long as there is a house for the "spirit." We can see this idea as well in the anime Ghost in the Shell. Other representations in literature and film suggest that the cyborg merging of technology to human body creates evil monsters (as in Virus) because the soul has been compromised. It's a haunting question: I imagine that the more we see the organic body as mechanism, potentially continuous with the machines humans build (especially with the growth of nanotechnology) the more our literature will reflect a fascination of the question of how soul/spirit and mechanism co-exist within the material body.

9:51 PM  

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