What may be thought of as the first cyborg, is both very dumb—worm-brained—and rather clunky—a little, wheeled robot body. After digitally mapping the neurons of the simplistic C. elegans roundworm, a research team with the OpenWorm project has simulated the worm’s brain in a comparatively complicated wheeled robot. The result, as described by the folks at SingularityHUB: the robot behaved like a C. elegans roundworm, in so far as a robot can act like a roundworm, by moving and avoiding objects without being explicitly programmed to do so.
While robots can currently be programmed to perform similar operations, this research is intended to show how, given a digital map of an organism’s brain, a robotic body may be made to behave like its organic counterpart. Now, the C. elegans’ 302 neurons and 7,000 synapses don’t quite compare to a human’s roughly 86 billon neurons and 100 trillion synapses, but this research is considered to be a single, small step toward mapping the human brain nonetheless.
All of this on the heels of public figures like Stephen Hawking and Space X’s chief executive, Elon Musk, openly discussing their fear of full artificial intelligence. While these fears bear an uncanny resemblance to those at play in the Terminator franchise—was that a neural map of Arnie’s brain controlling the Terminator?—they do bring the discussion back to a key question: how and when should technological discovery be tempered by fear?