Robotic Rat Bully Aids Depression Research

Intrepid researchers and roboticists at Waseda University in Japan have created a robotic rat that bullies regular rats until they become depressed

The researchers hope to create a useful laboratory setting in which to study anti-depression medications and therapies.


(Robotic rat bully)

Robotics is contributing to studies on animal behavior. Mobile robots are actually used as devices to give external stimulus to animals in several experiments. We consider that this approach can be applied to studies in psychic medicine. In psychic medicine, all new drugs are evaluated in experiments using animal models of mental disorder before using it in clinical practice. However, conventional animal models have some problems in the construct validity. The animal models should be developed through the method which is consistently associated with the theory of the mental disorders while many of conventional models had been developed by genetic manipulations or surgical operations on nerve system. We considered that a novel animal model could be developed by stress exposure using a small mobile robot. We then implemented this method to the experimental system which had been developed in our past study. An experiment was conducted using the system, and the method was then verified.

Therefore, we conclude that the animal model of depression developed by proposed method, exposing continuous attack by the robot in immature period and interactive attack in mature period, can be a novel animal model of depression.

In reading about this device, I thought about Harlan Ellison's 1967 short story I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. The supercomputer AM that extinguished the human race kept a handful alive just to bully and torture them.

But even though we could call AM any damned thing we liked, could think the foulest thoughts of fused memory banks and corroded base plates, of burnt/out circuits and shattered control bubbles, the machine would not tolerate our trying to escape...

"What does AM mean?"

Gorrister answered him. We had done this sequence a thousand times before, but it was Benny's favorite story. "At first it meant Allied Mastercomputer, and then it meant Adaptive Manipulator, and later on it developed sentience and linked itself up and they called it an Aggressive Menace, but by then it was too late, and finally called itself AM, emerging intelligence, and what it meant was I am ... cogito ergo sum ... I think, therefore I am."

...

AM said, very politely, in a pillar of stainless steel bearing bright neon lettering:

HATE. LET ME TELL
YOU HOW MUCH I'VE
COME TO HATE YOU
SINCE I BEGAN TO
LIVE. THERE ARE
387.44 MILLION MILES
OF PRINTED CIRCUITS
IN WAFER THIN LAY-
ERS THAT FILL MY
COMPLEX. IF THE
WORD HATE WAS EN-
GRAVED ON EACH
NANOANGSTROM OF
THOSE HUNDREDS OF
MILLIONS OF MILES IT
WOULD NOT EQUAL
ONE ONE-BILLIONTH
OF THE HATE I FEEL
FOR HUMANS AT THIS
MICRO-INSTANT FOR
YOU. HATE. HATE.

The activities of the AM supercomputer produced a variety of symptoms in the humans remaining alive, like madness, paranoia and depression.

From A novel method to develop an animal model of depression using a small mobile robot via MedGadget.

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