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Must Have Brains & Legos


THE SINGULARITY: The point in time when augmented intelligence, be it artificial, biological or a combination of both, will exceed human intellectual capacity and radically change civilization and life as it is currently understood.
What if we could take your brain and put it into a cybernetic body? Imagine “RoboCop,” only a real life version.
What if we could upload your brain to the cloud and connect it to the Internet? Imagine “The Matrix” or “Transcendence,” only a real life version.
What would you say if I told you that last week scientists took one small step for man, one giant leap toward the singularity? They did it in real life.
Last week scientists put a worm's 'brain' into a Lego robot's body. 
More specifically, researchers from the “OpenWorm” project uploaded a roundworm’s brain to a computer chip. They connected the chip's sensory neurons to smell, sight and touch sensors, connected the motor neurons to small engines and wheels, all of which are fairly standard components of a Lego "Mindstorms" robot. And then they set it loose. (See the video at the far bottom of this post.)
Without explicit programming or conditioning “RoboWorm” (my term) naturally, and incredibly, responds to stimulus, explores its environment, avoids objects, and behaves as a “real” worm.  Is it alive? Does it truly "think?"


We’re not ready to digitize your brain, yet. A roundworm has 302 neurons, a tiny number when compared with humans, who have over 86 billion. However, we are getting closer.
Ready for a fluffy toy puppy, with a real puppy brain upload? Or, a new Roomba that licks up spills and rolls over to be petted? How about your next automated, and improved, call center service representative? Or a battlefield robotic medic with a real neurosurgeon's brain? Or RoboCop?

This is way beyond today's A.I. (artificial intelligence). These are biological neural pathways, synapses and nerve cells, imprinted onto mechanical devices. The best of both worlds; or a nightmare come true? Immortality or the end of human life as we know it? Who's to say?
Imagine what’s next. Take the red pill.
© David J. Katz - New York City, December 16, 2014

C. Elegans Neurorobotics (aka "RoboWorm") Video

"OpenWorm is an open source project dedicated to creating a virtual C. elegans nematode." Seriously, it is. For more information regarding the OpenWorm project, click here.
Smithsonian Magazine coverage is here.
To read about The Singularity and OpenWorm, click here, or Science Magazine here.
All the code produced as part of the OpenWorm project is on GitHub under MIT licence. Different sub-projects are hosted in different repositories.

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