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Robo-Monkey
October 13, 2003 7:37 AM   Subscribe

We will create a cybernetic race of robo-monkeys. [via Washington Post]
posted by gwong (34 comments total)

 
Get yer stinking robotic paws off me, you damn dirty robo-monkey!
posted by filmgoerjuan at 7:46 AM on October 13, 2003


I, for one, welcome our new damn dirty robo-monkey overlords.
posted by phong3d at 7:51 AM on October 13, 2003


More over here (pdf).

I saw a German report on the tube the other day where a patient actually moved his new, left robo-arm, his hand and fingers with his thoughts. Scary shit. I haven't found it on the web yet tho.
posted by psychomedia at 7:56 AM on October 13, 2003


And the lead scientist is named....Miguel. Suspicious? I think so.
posted by anathema at 8:00 AM on October 13, 2003


If, like me, you don't want to type in your life story to "subscribe" to the WaPo, try here.
posted by walrus at 8:04 AM on October 13, 2003


This is absolutely incredible. I remember being astonished by the recent research that led to projecting the vision of a cat on a screen through electrodes, but this is even more amazing.
posted by stevengarrity at 8:06 AM on October 13, 2003


psychomedia: why scary? I've been moving my arms, hands and fingers with my thoughts for years. This is just another example of man copying tricks from nature. Nothing very PK Dicks about it until monkeys can move YOU with their thoughts ...
posted by walrus at 8:07 AM on October 13, 2003


psychomedia: why scary? I've been moving my arms, hands...

So have I, except I don't have pieces of metal, screws, chips and a blender inbetween. ;)

Nothing very PK Dicks about it until monkeys can move YOU with their thoughts ...

this is merely the beginning...
posted by psychomedia at 8:11 AM on October 13, 2003


Cybernetic poo flinging?

I think it's kind of scary too, but if I had to have an arm or leg amputated I'd probably feel differently.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:18 AM on October 13, 2003


These scientists may take a trip to the funny farm
when the final results aren't what they expected:
It's not the monkey's thoughts controlling the arm,
but their own, psychically projected.
posted by troybob at 8:40 AM on October 13, 2003


So have I, except I don't have pieces of metal, screws, chips and a blender inbetween.

Why does it matter if your wires, sensors and motors are made of metal or meat?

I've had pretty bad timing all my life, but if they can get together a robot exoskeleton to plop my old brain in before my body falls completely apart - preferably bristling with lasers or death rays or somesuch - well, that'd be pretty darn neat.
posted by majcher at 8:43 AM on October 13, 2003


Can sonic death monkeys be far in the future?
posted by signal at 8:48 AM on October 13, 2003


Someone is already working on a cybernetic sex monkey, you can be sure of that.

Well, ok, that someone is me, but don't tell anyone.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:55 AM on October 13, 2003


How far away can Arthur C. Clark's "superchimps" be? They'll do all our dirty work, fight our wars, go to the inhospitable places, perhaps colonize space. We will, with robotics, genetics and pharmacology, create an entire race bred specifically for slavery. Just who is the damned dirty ape?
posted by pejamo at 9:00 AM on October 13, 2003


I hope somebody is also working on the reverse to get sensory data from these robotic extensions. Not much fun to be a brain in a jar if you can't taste the chocolate or feel the caresses of some of that sweet, sweet monkey love.

Also, taken at its face this statement:

The monkeys were unaffected by the surgery, Nicolelis said.

...seems absurd. Not that I actually care too much still.

Oh, and I like that they're planning to add in wireless capabilities. in this day and age, you really want your monkey to come equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth.
posted by willnot at 9:42 AM on October 13, 2003


This is just too amazing--and while there are obvious issues anyone could raise about the problems this technology might create, I imagine there are a couple hudred thousand or so quadraplegics out there who would like to see a human application of this technology TODAY. Think about what this research could mean to someone whose brain is locked in a non-moving body.

This is huge.

Now we just have to figure out how to get our new cyber-monkey overlords to give us back those joysticks.
posted by mooncrow at 9:46 AM on October 13, 2003


So have I, except I don't have pieces of metal, screws, chips and a blender inbetween.

Thus, OBSOLESENCE. Report to the glue factory for rendering immediately.


Can sonic death monkeys be far in the future?

Please, be polite, call them "Helper Monkeys".
posted by Hackworth at 9:50 AM on October 13, 2003


They've had monkeys controlling cursors (and robot arms) with their brains via implants for a while. I'm not exactly clear on what makes this experiment a "first", but I'm sure it is something I'm missing.

A friend of mine worked with John Donoghue at Brown (quoted in this article) and worked on this very same type of experiment.

Here's a relevant article, which quotes my friend Misha (Serruya):
" "The scientific principle of decoding [motor neuron] activity rapidly, online, in a useful manner is now proven," said Serruya. the method could eventually help people who are paralyzed control electronic devices, he said. "This paves the way for possible development of a medical device that could help paralyzed patients."

And that is really what he and the people in his lab are hoping for. Indeed, he now works for a company that has set out to do exactly that.

I've often joked with him about his cyborg monkeys taking over the world... but the truth is, they see this as an incredible opportunity for people who are suffering greatly.

I can see why this is scary, and there is certainly potential for misuse (few articles mention that some money towards some of these labs came from none other than DARPA). That said, are you willing to deny this hope to people who can't move at all?
posted by malphigian at 9:52 AM on October 13, 2003


Thus, OBSOLESENCE.

I think I prefer obsolescence if this is what it comes down to. Then again, as JoanArkham put it, who knows what goes through your head if you're given a choice at the "right" moment. It's always easy to have an opinion before your life depends on it.
posted by psychomedia at 10:12 AM on October 13, 2003


And the lead scientist is named....Miguel. Suspicious? I think so.

We are taking over this little world of yours, yes we are!

*shrill, hysterical monkey laughfest in the background*

posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:24 AM on October 13, 2003


PRAY... FOR... MOJO....
posted by condour75 at 10:36 AM on October 13, 2003


I am reminded of the howler monkey Mac OS9 soundset where whenever you perform any sort of action with the mouse - a chorus of wild howler monkies scream and hoot in unison.

It made my roommate's mind bleed.

Is this off topic??
posted by cinderful at 10:38 AM on October 13, 2003


My favorite line (from the NYTimes article):
There was an "incredible moment" when the monkey realized that it could guide the cursor and grasp an object on the screen just by thinking it, Dr. Nicolelis said. The arm dropped. Muscles no longer contracted.
This amazes me not only because of what the monkey can do, but because of the way it allows us to watch the monkey's mind, in real time. We can see thought. The subjective becomes externalized. We're inside the monkey's head.

And then, of course, there's the fact that this is taking place across a species boundary. It's a monkey that is thinking, not a person. Can monkey's think? Do they have souls? Hmmm... I wonder what the Vatican would say.
posted by alms at 10:55 AM on October 13, 2003


alms: The Vatican has invited all active Cardinals to come this week for the Pope's 25 anniversary, must be a monkey or two in that pack.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:21 AM on October 13, 2003


I think the most curious aspect of this is the idea of having a seperate extension of one's body. The robot arm that the monkey controls is not connected to it; we're talking about extending the body, allowing a kind of co-location.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:09 PM on October 13, 2003


PRAY... FOR... MOJO....

...JOJO!

MOJO JOJO IS WHO YOU MUST PRAY FOR, AND THE PRAYERS THAT YOU SAY, UTTER, AND SPEAK MUST BE FOR THE HEALTH OF MOJO JOJO AND HIS ROBOT ARMS!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:18 PM on October 13, 2003


(few articles mention that some money towards some of these labs came from none other than DARPA)

The big military use I can see would be for fighter jets, or other high g-force situations.
so the pilot could control the plane without moving any muscles.
posted by Iax at 12:21 PM on October 13, 2003


Not much fun to be a brain in a jar if you can't taste the chocolate or feel the caresses of some of that sweet, sweet monkey love

That strikes me as a very anthropocentric perspective.

Also, I think some people confuse fear with caution too readily. Save the fear for where it's really appropriate/necessary/useful.
posted by rushmc at 12:27 PM on October 13, 2003


Well, I'm human and a relativist, so it isn't unlikely that my world view tends to be anthropocentric. Still, I'm left to wonder anthropocentric as opposed to what?

I like living. I would like to go on living past the point at which my body fails. However, I also like tasting and touching and seeing and smelling. I can't help wondering if life without any of those things would be as pleasant.

I suppose it's possible that divorced of physical reality the brain would find new ways to entertain itself. Some sort of Altered States sensory deprivation fantasies or pleasure derived from structured logic or some other esoteric joy.

Still, I'd be pretty surprised if most people wouldn't want to replicate life as they currently experience it. They might opt to enhance it a bit, but I don't know very many people would cheerfully cut off most semblances of it.
posted by willnot at 1:35 PM on October 13, 2003


well, we can give sight and hearing to a brain, and now robotic arms.

all we need now is touch, and smell/taste.
posted by Iax at 1:53 PM on October 13, 2003


Cybernetic poo flinging?

YES! With cybernetically controlled, analy mounted poop canons! Cyberpoopmonkeys of doom!
posted by Captain Ligntning at 6:46 PM on October 13, 2003


I wonder what the Vatican would say.

The Vatican has been opposed to Cybernetic Monkeys since the Diet of Grubs in 1173.
posted by condour75 at 7:45 PM on October 13, 2003


Get your mechanical paws off me, you damned dirty ape!
posted by SPrintF at 7:46 PM on October 13, 2003


Controversy continued on Monday as surgeons successfully transplanted little Django's brain into a robot monkey body....
posted by badzen at 10:05 PM on October 13, 2003


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