Rat Neurons In A Dish Now Playing Flight Simulator
In his excellent 1999 novel Starfish, science fiction writer Peter Watts wrote about "cultured brains on a slab" - a "head cheese" - that could pilot a plane as well as a person. Now, University of Florida scientist Dr. Thomas DeMarse has created a "brain in a dish" that can interact with a computer flight simulation.
(From Science Daily)
The "brain" is a small puddle of 25,000 living neurons taken from a rat's brain and cultured in a glass dish.
"It's essentially a dish with 60 electrodes arranged in a grid at the bottom," DeMarse said. "Over that we put the living cortical neurons from rats, which rapidly begin to reconnect themselves, forming a living neural network – a brain."
The individual neurons are distributed randomly at the beginning of the experiment, and are not connected. The aircraft simulation of an F-22 fighter jet feeds data into the grid about flight conditions; whether the plane is flying straight and level or not. The neurons begin to organize themselves, forming connections to each other. The neurons analyze the data and respond by sending signals to the plane's controls.
At first, the simulated plane drifts randomly. But the neural network slowly learns; currently, the brain can control the pitch and roll of the simulated craft in most weather conditions, including storms and hurricane-force winds.
DeMarse points out that, while computers have fast processing speeds, they can't approach the flexibility of the human brain. Certain kinds of computation, like recognizing a previously unseen piece of furniture as a table or a lamp, is difficult to program into a computer. Peter Watts points out this very same fact in his choice of living neurons as pilots:
Humans had always been able to integrate 3-D spatial information better than the machines that kept trying to replace them...
Read the original stories here and here. Read a short bio on Thomas DeMarse, Assistant Professor at the University of Florida's School of Biomedical Engineering.
Until now, apparently...
(Read more from Starfish smart gels)
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/25/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 24 )
Related News Stories -
Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!' - Red Dwarf
Software Learns To Design Software
'... The rational use of computers to design more advanced computers.' - Isaac Asimov, 1958.
China Now Has Robot Journalists
'A vast complex electronic organism buried deep in the ground, responsible to no one...' - Philip K. Dick, 1963.
Sales Robots More Persistent Than Humans
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing,,, shrilling...' - Philip K Dick, 1954.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!
Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'
Robotic Physician Assistant Has Steady 'Hands'
'You turned the screws below and the prongs moved... with caliper slowness, minuteness and precision.'
Roboy 3DPrinted Humanoid Robot
'A robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family...'
Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe
'Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect...'
3D Printed Fashion - Plastirobes And Transdresses
'... dial a new fashion every day!'
Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'
Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...'
Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!'
Otto Autonomous Robot Trucks Run Into... Legal Snag
'They were automatic trucks such as are used for making deliveries...'
Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
'The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together...'
ThreeForm 3D Scans And Digitally Simulates Customer Fashion
'...A miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red.'
CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...'
Piaggio Gita Personal Robot Porter
'Carry his bag... and follow him faithfully...'
Ardu McDuino, Bagpipe Robot
'Rollo sat at the keyboard, prim, inhuman, rigid, twin lenses focused...'
Not Quite Self-Replicating Robots, Franka Emika
'... it shares with mankind the ability to propagate.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories