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Animal Cyborgs Do Exist, and This Is What They Do
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Cyborgs may seem like a nightmare from Terminator, but science has concocted a few of these robotic chimeras. This is what they can do. - photo by Corinn Sessions
The stuff of science fiction never ceases to amaze, especially when it comes to things that involve artificial intelligence and robots.

While the future of cyborgs is uncertain, there are still very real advances in utilizing the amalgamation of organic tissues and technological hardware. Specific uses of such advances range anywhere from surveillance to disaster relief. And no, these arent uses for human cyborgs although many would find the idea rather amusing these are the joining of natures own creatures and the brainchildren of scientists. These are some examples of the useful, yet questionable, uses of cyborg technology:

Leech brain computer

Back in 1999 scientists were able to create a computer fired by a leechs brain to do simple computations. While computers have been able to do simple and complex computations for some time, the fact that this particular computer has organic tissue at its core means it could overpower the traditional computer by filling in the gaps of missing information. Computers do very well when every piece of the equation is there, but if some variable is absent it cant very well sit back and think, Something is missing. Maybe I can piece it together with the information I do have. Computers are generally stupid, unless there is a person there to tell it what to do. So, add in a leech brain and the thing might be able to think for itself.

Gold-plated microbes

The humble microbe has been engineered by nature itself so what it is able to do, it does it magnificently. Scientists have covered the bacteria in gold plating to detect humidity in controlled environments. When the humidity is high, the microbes swell. Similarly, the microbes shrink when humidity is low. Get this the microbes are four times more accurate than any piece of hardware a laboratory can spit out. Such technology could allow scientists to use these little guys to detect hazardous gases or substances. Even after the microbes die the average life expectancy is about two days the cellborg humidity sensor is still able to function.

Rats, cockroaches as disaster search and rescue

These particular examples may incite shivers and gag reflexes in some, but to a trapped victim of a natural disaster they could look like strange yet tiny miracles. Scientists have been able to implant electrodes in the brains of rats and cockroaches in order to influence the direction they go. Since roaches and rats are perfectly built to scurry into dark and cramped places, they were the perfect candidates to venture into said places to find victims of disasters. Armed with small battery-like backpacks that can relay GPS locations, as well as the electrical activity of either roach or rat, search and rescue teams can essentially have an RC pest go to places where they could never go.

Robots controlled by an eels brain, a soup of rat neurons, and a moth brain

There are robots that can use the electrical signals from extracted brains, neuron stews and decapitated heads to navigate around obstacles and essentially move about on their own. Scientists have been able to keep the brain receptive after death so that computers can interpret the signals and then translate it into robotic movements. To put it in lay terms: its like a zombified moth brain controlling a robot.

Other animals have had success in meriting the cyborg list: spiny dogfish sharks, turtles, beetles, geckos and pigeons. These Frankenstein products are used mostly in a remote-controlled sense (think an RC pigeon), such as sending a dogfish shark into hostile waters in order to detect explosives, or sending a flying beetle to buzz around a top-secret enemy base with a tiny camera strapped to it.
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