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monkey see, monkey do
May 28, 2008 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon have demonstrated that a monkey can control a robotic arm with its brain when food is used as a reward.
posted by Pants! (39 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
* gets up from the theater, sidles his way out to the aisle *

Sorry, this is where I came in.
posted by yhbc at 5:55 PM on May 28, 2008


*watches YhBc leave, then points at where he was*

Is this seat taken?
posted by ZachsMind at 5:57 PM on May 28, 2008


a monkey can control a robotic arm with its brain when food is used as a reward.

Explains a lot about our last two presidential elections.
posted by dersins at 5:59 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're one step closer to teaching ants how to sort tiny screws in space!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:00 PM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our new robot-monkey overlords.
posted by Dec One at 6:03 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


As long as they're not river-dancing like they do in that ridiculous Arby's ad, I'm ok with it.
posted by ornate insect at 6:03 PM on May 28, 2008


What will monkeys be able to control when total domination of mankind is used as a reward?

Hopefully still just cumbersome immobile robotic apparatus that we build for them.

Seriously, this is freaking amazing. It's fascinating that the crude motions can be derived from just a few hundred inputs when hundreds of thousands to millions of i/o neurons are needed by natural system.
posted by Science! at 6:05 PM on May 28, 2008


So,

We get the whole electro grid problem worked out and I can have my army of mecha spider monkey beer mercinaries.

Or I can just mount a third robo arm right behind my neck so I can scratch my back without having to use the toilet brush.

Either one will work, I'm easy.
posted by The Power Nap at 6:05 PM on May 28, 2008


Duke University scientists did a similar experiment a bit ago.

And don't forget the rats.
posted by jammy at 6:07 PM on May 28, 2008


Cyborg monkeys? Geez, why don't just hand them world domination?
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:07 PM on May 28, 2008


>Geez, why don't just hand them world domination?

First the scientist types that started it all have to sacrifice themselves to save the kids, and thus achieve redemption. A little patience wouldn't hurt, y'know...
posted by pompomtom at 6:10 PM on May 28, 2008


These rats scare me.
posted by Pants! at 6:10 PM on May 28, 2008


The NewScientist YouTube video of this (I assume it's the same as the one here, which I can't see) really creeped me out. Notice how the top of the monkey's head just happens to be blocked by a piece of machinery in the foreground?
posted by DU at 6:11 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like NASA's chimponauts, the CIA has had an MKULTRA-type team of mind controlled simian assassins for years. We're way past Lancelot Link these days, people. Way past.
posted by ornate insect at 6:12 PM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


First monkey on Mars, no doubt.
posted by edverb at 6:16 PM on May 28, 2008


Crazed monkey-robot sex in 3, 2, 1, mark.

Crazed ninja-pirate-monkey-robot sex still illegal in most countries.
posted by loquacious at 6:21 PM on May 28, 2008


Always nice to see one's alma mater doing Cool Science Stuff. Go Pitt!
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:22 PM on May 28, 2008


cmu$ mount -t monkeybrainfs /dev/scratchmonkey /monkey
cmu$ more /monkey/var/logs/id.001
want food
want food
want food
<id.001 1%>
^C
cmu$ umount /monkey
posted by GuyZero at 7:09 PM on May 28, 2008


I agree with DU posted above. It's unbelievably obvious how the monkey's scalp is blocked by machinery. This is because, in all likelihood, the monkey has either been scalped outright, or has wires and electrodes protruding from the top of it's head. This kind of experimentation, while possibly useful, is almost barbaric towards the animal. Let's see this video from another angle, along with the preparation, research and experimentation.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 7:11 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoa, this dude just gave me a lecture in Neuro about human brain "mapping" in relation to the motor and sensory "homunculi" of the brain. (Ref. 1, Ref. 2)

He showed us an earlier video of his "monkey with a robotic arm" experiments...that monkey has learned a lot of control in the last few months! But, what they don't tell you explicitly in the video, at least, is that those conveniently placed machines and apparatus is also there to block out the BIG GAPING HOLE in the monkey's brain. Dr. Schawrtz said it is for "the audience's ease."

This is amazing technology he's got going there, but it should be noted that there are still hundreds of "wires running out of the brain and to a computer." We've got a long ways to go before this is a simple implantable chip and robotic limbs set to bring back locomotion to the disabled.
posted by i less than three nsima at 7:13 PM on May 28, 2008


a monkey can control a robotic arm with its brain when food is used as a reward.

Hell, if there is food involved, I'll control a robot arm with my brain.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:21 PM on May 28, 2008


Hell, if there's food involved, I don't need a robotic arm. I just will the food into my mouth with MY brain.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:37 PM on May 28, 2008


Paging Karl Pilkington...
posted by Old Man Wilson at 7:37 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I understand the concern for the humane treatment of animals, but believe me when I say that even with wires coming out of its head, that monkey's life is many, many, many times nicer than that of any food stock animals (pig, cow, chicken, etc) that we consume on a regular basis. The rules and regulations governing the treatment of research animals are incredibly strict, and the consequences for violating them can ruin a lab's ability to its research (as in, "you break the rules, we take away your current reason for existence").

I have a number of friends who are doing neuro and microbiological research at a major research university, and I was amazed by how much training they had to go through in order to work with mice only. There are regulations governing everything from breeding, to cage maintenance, to the exact flow rate of CO2 into the chamber to put them to sleep. And that's just for mice! I can't imagine how much must go into maintaining a primate facility. Anyway, not trying to preach, just wanted to share observations from the other side of the research video camera.
posted by Osrinith at 7:42 PM on May 28, 2008


Hell, if there's monkeys involved, I'll actually watch American Idol.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:59 PM on May 28, 2008


I hate when they take the skulls off. Hate.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:19 PM on May 28, 2008


umount /monkey!
posted by flotson at 8:23 PM on May 28, 2008


a monkey can control a robotic arm with its brain when food is used as a reward.

with a little creative re-odering:

a robotic arm can control a monkey brain when its food is used as a reward. with
posted by blue_beetle at 9:07 PM on May 28, 2008


This would be a more effective method of wiping humanity off the face of the earth if the cybernetic arms were powered by human blood.
posted by whir at 9:13 PM on May 28, 2008


Hell, if there's a robotic arm involved, I'll just use the joystick and happilly use it to spoon-feed Cheerios into my mouth. The monkey can hang, watch some TV, and eat his bowl of Cheerios normally.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:21 PM on May 28, 2008


Old Man Wilson, you beat me to it!
posted by jimmythefish at 9:22 PM on May 28, 2008


Said co-author Mandayam Srinivasan, director of the MIT laboratory,

"When we initially conceived the idea of using monkey brain signals to control a distant robot across the Internet, we were not sure how variable delays in signal transmission would affect the outcome. Even with a standard TCP/IP connection, it worked out beautifully. It was an amazing sight to see the robot in my lab move, knowing that it was being driven by signals from a monkey brain at Duke. It was as if the monkey had a 600-mile-long virtual arm."



sorry i just thought this was important.
posted by eustatic at 9:56 PM on May 28, 2008


Does no-one remember the lessons we learned from System Shock 2?
posted by Sparx at 3:23 AM on May 29, 2008


I agree with DU posted above. It's unbelievably obvious how the monkey's scalp is blocked by machinery. This is because, in all likelihood, the monkey has either been scalped outright, or has wires and electrodes protruding from the top of it's head.

Imagine you are completely amoral but, that your grant money is driven by your monkey doing things with a robotic arm. While you might not be doing things that are in the monkey's best interest, anything that causes it to be less about doing things with the robotic arm and more about being in pain are going to be the enemy. If soothing music and chai tea help the monkey concentrate they the monkey is going to get soothing music and chai tea. Even if you have to scalp another one of your graduate students to make it happen.

Anyhow, you don't have to go digging around in a brain to have direct brain to computer interface: here's a picture of a little girl playing with a toy train and a guy playing with a toy robot. And if you do, you don't have the wires come out the top of your head! It's unsightly.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:41 AM on May 29, 2008


Wasn't this the subject of the whole horrible Silver Spring Monkeys contraversy 20 years ago?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:49 AM on May 29, 2008


Monkey torture can be funny.
posted by squarehead at 8:56 AM on May 29, 2008


@squarehead: no, I think cutting the afferent ganglia going to a monkey's limbs, using masking tape to suspend them in the air, and applying massive shocks to the animal in order that they gain control of senseless arms and legs is a vastly different scenario than implanting an electrode grid in the brain to control a robotic arm.
posted by tybeet at 10:35 AM on May 29, 2008


(that last post was @Pollomacho not squarehead)
posted by tybeet at 10:36 AM on May 29, 2008




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