Questionable animal metaphors: monkey outsourcing

1 minute read

So, a monkey in North Carolina was controlling a robot in Japan, using only its brain waves.

"It's walking!" Dr. Nicolelis said. "That's one small step for a robot and one giant leap for a primate."

Well, what else did you expect him to say? Maybe "Mwa-ha-HA-HA!"?

Anyway, the study looks kind of cool -- they had a monkey on a treadmill for an hour, got the electrode reading neurons related to walking, and had the monkey watching the robot's legs on a television screen. Once the monkey got used to the idea of controlling the robot's legs, they stopped the treadmill. At this point, even though the monkey had stopped, its brain kept the robot walking.

The next step: virtual robot monkey reality:

In the near future, Idoya and other bipedal monkeys will be getting more feedback from CB in the form of microstimulation to neurons that specialize in the sense of touch related to the legs and feet. When CB's feet touch the ground, sensors will detect pressure and calculate balance. When that information goes directly into the monkeys' brains, Dr. Nicolelis said, they will have the strong impression that they can feel CB's feet hitting the ground.
At that point, the monkeys will be asked to make CB walk across a room by using just their thoughts.

Unfortunately, they will have to move offshore to have virtual robot monkey knife fights.