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Meet the lego robot with the brain of a worm
None of us want to die, and we all like playing with Lego. These simple facts are pretty much undisputed, so it’s good to see that science took a small, but important, step towards Lego based immortality recently, when scientists programmed a Lego Robot to respond to a Worm’s brainwaves.
First things first: it’s not a real worm brain – there’s no tiny brain surgery at work here. Instead, scientists have just mapped the worm’s 302 neurons and simulated them in software form: OpenWorm (we say ‘just’, but that still beats our sum total achievements for the day.)
These functions are connected to a Lego robot body, where it responds to stimuli based on what it ‘thinks’ is best – it is not following any kind of computer code or instruction, which is an important distinction. This isn’t Artificial Intelligence – it’s real intelligence. Albeit invertebrate intelligence, so not that bright, in the greater scheme of things.
The body parts of the worm have been mapped to its new robot body, with a sonar sensor replacing the nose and motor neurons on its sides to allow it to move. The robot will behave as a worm would to external factors: stimulating the nose stops it moving forward, while activating its food sensors has the opposite effect.
The results are suitably wormy, as you can see in the video below;
In case you’re curious, the specific worm brain used is that of the Caenorhabditis elegans. They’re just a millimetre long, with transparent skin. This worm would have felt like Godzilla, if only it had the pop-culture knowledge and brainpower to draw the comparison in its 302 neurons.
Baby steps, but you may be seeing the first small steps towards immortality here: and hopefully it won’t just be our lucky invertebrate overlords who benefit in the long run…