We have all seen countless movies in which robots take over the world and wipe out humanity, where robots behave like humans and form a whole force to fight against the beings that created them. Most of us didn’t really believe that one day, robots that behave like humans, would actually become real. Until now. Scientists have been able to make tiny human brains and hook them up to robots! For many, it is still unbelievable, but scientists are actually moving closer and closer to creating life in a laboratory.
The steps that have been taken are just the beginning and there is a very long way to go until scientists are able to completely replicate a human brain and successfully implant it into a metal body.
Scientists have been able to come up with ways to make robots behave like humans. They were able to produce organoids which generate brain waves that could show signs of consciousness, and reproduce qualities of the human brain like being capable of sentience (capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively) and of feeling pain, agony and distress.
It all started at the University of California, San Diego lab, of biologist Alysson Muotri, where the scientists used stem cells to grow organoids. These are tiny, self-organized three-dimensional tissue cultures. These organoids were then packed into a box and shipped to space to see how they develop in a zero gravity environment. As said by Muotri, they are most likely ‘replicating like crazy’ in space. It was then observed that the organoids produced were giving off brain waves or complex designs of neural activities. As the organoids matured, it was observed that they showed changes in the brain waves, similar to the changes that take place in the developing brain of a premature baby. This peculiar finding is forcing the scientists to revisit the limitations of lab-grown mini-organs and the ethical issues surrounding them.
To proceed with the experiment, Dr. Muotri hooked the mini brains up onto a spider-shaped robot in order to study the neural activity. The results that he got from this could possibly prove that scientists are now able to generate partially conscious life in a laboratory.
Dr. Muotri emphasized the fact that these are just clusters of replicating brain cells, not actual brains. Another point to state is that the mini brains barely scratch the surface of a human brain’s capabilities. The human brain is immensely complex, whereas the mini-brains are just a simple ball of neurons. But, of course, creating these simple balls of neurons, somewhat similar to the human brain, was also once believed to be an impossible task.
As the scientists agree, there is a long way to go to make human brain robots a success in the world of science and technology. But, this is also a huge landmark and many scientist across the globe are experimenting with and are hopeful that this research will not stop here.