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Brain Interface Lets Monkeys Control Prosthetic Limbs

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the what-did-you-do-at-the-lab-today-bonzo dept.

Biotech 208

himicos was one of many readers to point out one recent success of scientists working to develop working brain-machine interfaces, writing "A team at the university of Pittsburgh has finally advanced a 2002 technology enough for use in prosthetic limbs, the targeted application all along. Training computer models to the firing patterns of the neurons in the parts of the brain that control motion, they are able to project the intentions of a monkey to a robotic arm, which follows the will of the animal. The sad thing about the articles is that the beauty of the mathematics used to create and train the models is totally ignored." Reader phpmysqldev adds a link to coverage at the BBC, and writes "This of course brings significant hope to amputees and other other people with physical disabilities." (Note that this research has been going on for quite some time.)

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208 comments

And just like that... (5, Funny)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585235)

Brain Interface Lets Monkeys Control Prosthetic Limbs
And just like that, a SciFi channel original movie is conceived.

Re:And just like that... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585461)

"Conceived" is an awful strong word for one of those movies.

Maybe "amorphously blobbed together" or "agglomerated" or something.

Re:And just like that... (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585507)

You reserve the studio in Bulgaria, I'll call Bruce Campbell!

Re:And just like that... (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585715)

I'll call Bruce Campbell!

Add Glen Campbell and make it 'Monkey Robot Overlords: The Musical!'

Gives new meaning to... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585261)

Get your stinkin paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

Re:Gives new meaning to... (1)

digitalsolo (1175321) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586745)

You mean, "Get your stinkin' ROBOTIC paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

God hates amputees... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585285)

It'll never work. Everyone knows that God hates amputees.

Re:God hates amputees... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586267)

That's why humans are making this instead of leaving it up to God.

Ready for a run chummer? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585287)

I want my datajack already! I've got essense to burn.

sci-fi pondering (2, Interesting)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585293)

if/when we invent lightsabers, we should have the robotic limb problem solved. other than that, this should help paralyzed people move again

Re:sci-fi pondering (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585729)

Do you merit all scientific advances purely by how much closer they're going to get us to the Star Wars universe? ;) I don't think that lightsaber mishaps are the only type that require the victim to use a prosthetic.

Re:sci-fi pondering (3, Funny)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586441)

True. Crashing my X-wing could necessitate one.

Re:sci-fi pondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586655)

Do you merit all scientific advances purely by how much closer they're going to get us to the Star Wars universe?
That's a little narrow minded... we also use Star Trek as a reference :)

I for one, welcome our new Borg... monkeys.

Explain the beauty? (1)

_bug_ (112702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585317)

Would the OP or someone else in the community care to take a moment to explain the beauty of the math for us non math-majors?

Re:Explain the beauty? (1)

Technopaladin (858154) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585483)

Imagine the Mona Lisa...only if were a Paint by Numbers.

Re:Explain the beauty? (4, Insightful)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585575)

How would you explain the beauty of a sunset to the blind?

Re:Explain the beauty? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585747)

Make them some prosthetic eyes?

Re:Explain the beauty? (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587139)

Pff. Done already. [idtechex.com]

Re:Explain the beauty? (2, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587499)

Didn't say it hadn't, but the colour and resolution on those things isn't going to be much use for watching a sunset :P

Re:Explain the beauty? (5, Informative)

dezert_fox (740322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586437)

Shannon entropy has been a standard tool in data communications for a very long time--telcos use this math to make your phones work. It's effectively a way of quantifying the informational content of a signal, which can be used to determine exactly what kind of bandwidth you need in a bandwidth-limited environment. I'm uncertain what it's used for in the context of a brain-machine interface.
Any good data communications textbook would have some nice examples in it, and actually that wikipedia article posted is very readable and informative.

Re:Explain the beauty? (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585779)

Oh yea that will be a big hit, for the general public. Showing all the math that needs to be done. or Show a picture of a monkey with a robotic arm. Lets face it math is not a spectator sport. To observe the beuity of it you will need to sit down and look at it proove it to yourself then you can admire it. However Most people don't have the time to sit down and follow equations that most mathamatitions follow the old scheme of using Greek symbols as shortcuts to (porposly) make it very difficult to read for non math majors. Heck I have a Math Minor and the symbols require me to look them up, and figuring out in what area the math is used the same symbol can mean different things. A simple example Pi in Geomontry is different then Pi in Statitics. Math is not a spectator sport to appreate its beuity takes time, if you are not intimatly involved with it it gets that much more cryptic.

Re:Explain the beauty? (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585871)

I agree - you could have the most beautiful math equations in the world and 99.999% of the population wouldn't give a rip. That includes me, and I minored in math and may even know what they're talking about if I cared enough to read the equations.

Monkeys with bionic limbs is another story entirely.

Re:Explain the beauty? (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586571)

Showing all the math that needs to be done. or Show a picture of a monkey with a robotic arm.
It's just the same here. Consider:
  • I for one welcome our very hard mathematics doing overlords
  • I for one welcome our new bionic monkey overlords
In Soviet Russia the same league isn't even in THEM!!!!

Re:Explain the beauty? (5, Insightful)

hansraj (458504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586079)

I am amazed at the number of responses being just smug and claiming how you need to do math to appreciate the beauty. Reminds me of a guy doing PhD is Chemistry about effects of certain chiral isomer of nicotine on cancer. His first response when I asked what he worked on was "You won't get it". I am a PhD student in computational geometry and I frequently have to explain my work to relatives who have no idea about geometry. When I pestered the guy that whether or not he can explain his work to a layman reflects his understanding about his work, he agreed to try. Of course I could understand the central part once he replaced the technical name of the molecule with "a chiral isomer of nicotine". I am sure it could have been further simplified as "mirror image molecule of the stuff in tobacco" in case I didn't remember what "chiral" and "nicotine" are.

On the topic, I am not entirely sure about the exact math used in the said experiment but based on the fact that the link points to the notion of "information content", here is my guess how it should work (at least in principle). I will try just because no one else seems to. Feel free to correct me.

The state of the neurons of the relevant area of the brain (relevant for the goal in the experiment - say pick marshmallows or open the door) could be modeled as a random variable. The first problem when trying to figure out what a certain electrical activity in brain represents would be to figure out whether you are looking at a random electrical activity (brain doing lots of background work maybe) or some order (brain trying to focus and activate the subroutine for "move hand and open door"). This difference between order and chaos is captured in a neat formula describing the entropy or the information content of the random variable. Naturally, the less the entropy the more the order. I have no idea what possibly goes on after this step.

In any case, now coming to the "beauty" part. Of course you need an eye to appreciate beauty for the notion is quite subjective. The remarkable thing is that a simple formula captures the vague notion of "order" that we all have. The formula might not be the most beautiful thing because as I understood from the article, the log term is somewhat forced to make sure different things add up nicely. But then, one could think of this very fact (the extra log term) as a neat mathematical representation of the notion that disorder should be able to be combined with another disorder to create something bigger.

I hope my response is better than "drop whatever you are doing and go do a PhD in math before you can understand the beauty of math".

The Next Step? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587495)

I have no idea what possibly goes on after this step.

I don't know what would go after this step either, but the one after that would be Profit!!!

Forget Replacement Limbs... (5, Insightful)

crymeph0 (682581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585333)

How about custom appendages? If the brain can be trained to independently control a new arm, why couldn't it learn to control a genuine Doctor Octopus suit?

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (4, Insightful)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585523)

How about custom appendages? If the brain can be trained to independently control a new arm, why couldn't it learn to control a genuine Doctor Octopus suit?

Speaking from experience, it is because the grant money is better. If you say you need money to research brain/machine interfaces for prothetic limbs to help disabled people, you are more likely to get it than when you say you need the research to give yourself/your_cyborg_army superhuman appendages to be used for world domination.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (3, Funny)

crymeph0 (682581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586083)

Fair enough, but can't this research be directly applied to my one-man-cyborg-army-of-the-apocalypse idea, even though that's not the PR angle they're going for?

Once this technology advances to the stage where we can get genuine Darth Vader(tm) brand prosthetics after our various lightsaber mishaps, I'm just hoping that some entrepreneurial young Doctor will implant the control chips in perfectly healthy people for a fee, which you could then hook to the hardware of your choice. Of course, this may have to take place in a third world country where the FDA doesn't hold back novel ideas just because they aren't "medically necessary", or because it's an "abomination before God", or some such drivel.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (1)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586705)

Just say that by using this you can fight teh terrists!

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (1)

Dusty00 (1106595) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586821)

Aside from the grant money the idea of making additional cybernetics is a more difficult one. With prosthetic limbs the idea is to detect the neurological activity associated with executing a task one's nervous system is trained to do. For lack of a better term, the nervous systems base instruction set is insufficient to control limb it doesn't have.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (4, Interesting)

crymeph0 (682581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587243)

But in this case, the monkey was trained to use the robotic arm not as a replacement for a missing arm, but as an entirely new arm. That is, even though the apparatus was similar to an existing limb, the brain still had to learn to control a brand new limb independently from the old ones. If nothing else, this means we can give ourselves at least a third arm, and probably more. The brain is fairly malleable, and I bet with training, we could adapt ourselves to a wide variety of "appendage upgrades".

Of course, because of the "abomination before God" factor, nobody in the medical establishment will ask this question officially for years, if ever. But I'm sure some geek amputee will start playing around with modding his new arm/leg/ear, and if he doesn't turn into a bloodthirsty cyborg, or get lynched by fundamentalists, he'll become very rich and famous by enabling us to reach way beyond what we thought our full potential was.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (3, Insightful)

street struttin' (1249972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587391)

Speaking from experience, it is because the grant money is better. If you say you need money to research brain/machine interfaces for prothetic limbs to help disabled people, you are more likely to get it than when you say you need the research to give yourself/your_cyborg_army superhuman appendages to be used for world domination.
You have GOT to be kidding! Getting government grants to find military applications for otherwise harmless things is a staple of the defense program. If you have an answer to "How many Commies/Terrorists can it kill", you've got grant money.

So go ahead and build your cybernetic superhumans to do your bidding, but you might have to sign a contract that says you'll do the bidding of the US government, too.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585861)

Wouldn't that make them spider monkeys?

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586369)

Because then you'd also need to research a special device that keeps the mechanical arms from taking over your brain.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (2, Insightful)

schmu_20mol (806069) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586511)

Because the prosthetic is controlled by the very neurons which are normally used to control the monkeys now restrained arm. The research focused on using already 'trained' and known neurons within the brain and how to interface them with a prosthetic. Afaik, there's currently no research going on about using 'unnatural' or to the brain formerly unknown limbs.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (4, Insightful)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586525)

I would imagine the mental map we have of our bodies has four limbs. This would mean that, for purposes of sensation, motor control and proprioception, we can't operate more than four limbs at once. Why would we evolve the ability to control limbs that we don't even have? I mean, brains are flexible, but I would guess that trying to push the "body control/sensation/proprioception" map past four limbs may have some unintended (and possibly bad) consequences.

An alternative might be the use muscles in the face to control extra limbs. Frowning would perform one action with the prosthetics, smiling another, etc. But this would be considerably more clumsy than the intended use- replacing a limb that doesn't exist on the physical body, but does have a designated place in the brain that controls it.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586925)

The mental map can easily be extended, however controlling them simultaneously could be extraordinarely hard to learn - you'd learn quickly to operate any extra limb because of the mental map, but the synchronity of the limbs would be built on the idea of four limbs.

Which, ironically, would be easier to learn if you were born quadraplegic.

I, for one, welcome our new previously-quadraplegic cyborg overlords.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (2, Funny)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587433)

You may be on to something. I've been trying to gain control of my third leg for years, but it seems to have a mind of its own.

Re:Forget Replacement Limbs... (1)

DrHackenbush (1273982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586825)

Maybe but you would need at least eight monkeys at all times to help you run it. Come to think of it, eight monkeys and an octopus suit sounds like the basis for a great party.

Great idea! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587345)

Real-life tentacle hentai may finally be made possible!

Adapting the technology (4, Funny)

utnapistim (931738) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585369)

So ... I realize that this will ultimately be adapted to humans, but could it be adapted to something else?

Specifically, I'm thinking of adapting a laser prosthetic arm, to be used by the poor, armless sharks ...

It's just an idea ...

Re:Adapting the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585655)

So ... I realize that this will ultimately be adapted to humans, but could it be adapted to something else?

Specifically, I'm thinking of adapting a laser prosthetic arm, to be used by the poor, armless sharks ...
You're worried about the sharks? I'm just stoked that in a few years I'll be able to type with two hands again =)

Re:Adapting the technology (2, Funny)

Yogiz (1123127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585873)

I'm just stoked that in a few years I'll be able to type with two hands again =)
And I with four.

Re:Adapting the technology (1)

hansraj (458504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586799)

Soon if you tell someone that you are typing with two hands, they would scream and think of you as a pervert.

I can't begin to imagine the shock if someone says they are typing with just one then.

Re:Adapting the technology (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586163)

Sadly, no.

The poor, armless sharks are also poor, arm-controlling-neuron-less sharks.

They will just have to make do with traditional head-mounted lasers.

Justin.

failed judgement lets hired goons control US (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585395)


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dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

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corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

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meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

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Other other... (2, Funny)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585401)

This of course brings significant hope to amputees and other other Mad Scientists
Fixed that for you.

PLEASE tell me it makes them type faster (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585405)

I've got 1,000 of these smelly bastards sitting in a room full of typewriters, and NOT ONE of them has produced the works of Shakespeare yet.

Re:PLEASE tell me it makes them type faster (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585637)

Pray for Mojo.

I for one... (-1, Offtopic)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585407)

....eh, you know, forget it.

Obligatory Overlord (-1, Offtopic)

elfstone1555 (907122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585415)

I, for one, welcome our new robotic-arm-wielding monkey overlords!

monkeys (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585421)

if i were unfortunate enough to be an amputee, i would not like a monkey to be operating my prosthetic limbs.

Re:monkeys (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586617)

If you allow for genetic drift, there's no difference.

Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585445)

This of course brings significant hope to amputees and other other people with physical disabilities.

Yes, if you are depressed because you can't walk, you can now be cheered up by watching cybermonkeys fling faeces at each other with ever greater velocity!

Other X-creatures (3, Funny)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585519)

That's nothing, I know tons of girls like Rogue, that can steal your powers by touching you.

Re:Other X-creatures (3, Funny)

Inda (580031) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586187)

How many more times..? It's not stealing, it's copyright infringement.

Re:Other X-creatures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586565)

That's nothing, I know tons of girls like Rogue, that can steal your powers by touching you.
"That's nothing, I know tons of girls like Rogue, that can steal your "MONEY" by touching you."

There I corrected your typo.

Re:Other X-creatures (1)

genner (694963) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586727)

I know a few more that make you loose conciousness when you touch them.

hope to amputees (5, Funny)

Paul Rose (771894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585557)

>>This of course brings significant hope to amputees
As long as they don't mind carrying a monkey to control their prosthetic arm...

A++ WOULD LOL AGAIN (0, Troll)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586663)

This post totally made my morning. I salute you!

So will that mean (1)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585559)

that my (special) hands can work for me while I am on a vacation?

Daily Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585567)

So many science stories on /. appeared months ago on Daily planet (www.discoverychannel.ca/dailyplanet). Since people here are clearly incapable of reading an article, maybe people should watch the show and then be ready to discuss the story when it appears here (without even reading the article).

No typing required! (3, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585583)

Now the infinite number of monkeys will only need to *think* about Hamlet.

OnTopic? (1)

tezza (539307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585589)

Monkeys, mind-control, robots, maths and electronics

-- just what is this doing on Slashdot?

Re:OnTopic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23587033)

What part of those five is not awesome?

PITA! (0, Flamebait)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585593)

This is the kind of research they want to stop.

Re:PITA! (2, Funny)

Jor-Al (1298017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585723)

Why does a piece of flatbread want this research to stop?

Re:PITA! (2, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586807)

PITA is a bread?! I thought it was an acronym describing my wife. She sure does love the monkeys

Monkey's opinion (4, Insightful)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585679)

The monkey in the pictures had his own arms restrained within tubes so that he/she would be forced to use the mechanical arm in order to get the marshmallow, and the mechanical arm isn't oriented so that the monkey could possibly mistake it for his/her own arm. I can't help but wonder what the monkey's opinion of all this is. It's got to be more than a little confusing.

Re:Monkey's opinion (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585709)

Clearly, it likes marshmallows.

Re:Monkey's opinion (5, Funny)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585795)

He/she might be thinking "I wish this @#$@ing robot arm thing would quit stuffing those @%#$ed marshmallows in my mouth!"

Re:Monkey's opinion (1)

Jor-Al (1298017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586537)

So monkeys think in the voice of Sam Jackson?

Re:Monkey's opinion (2, Informative)

street struttin' (1249972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587493)

He/she might be thinking "I wish this @#$@ing robot arm thing would quit stuffing those @%#$ed marshmallows in my mouth!"
I'd think it'd be more like The Terminal Man [wikipedia.org] . In it, they discuss the addiction to the stimulation. If you could have a marshmallow whenever you wanted (a good thing) just by thinking about it, eventually you'd just never stop thinking about it.

Almost (3, Interesting)

speroni (1258316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585685)

Almost in time for our war with largest incident of severed limbs due to IED's.

I knew a guy in college who was working in this field. He went on to do master's work at Cornell. Incidentally he had no arms.

This will be great to improve the standard of living for many of the returning soldiers.

When servicing the equipment... (2, Funny)

cruff (171569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585717)

Don't forget to always mount a scratch monkey.

what about the monkeys? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585755)

I'm hardly an animal rights advocate, but has anyone stopped to ask what sort of ethics has us cracking open a monkey's head to perform these experiments?

Re:what about the monkeys? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23585783)

cracking open a monkey's head to perform these experiments?
Mmmm, tasty monkey brain.

Not impressed. (5, Funny)

JoeD (12073) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585775)

Get back to me when they can use the robotic arm to fling poo.

Re:Not impressed. (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586843)

they already do: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadarm [wikipedia.org] . they are not using it to its full potential though.

just imagine: flaming poo from the sky coming at you at 3000 mph!

Re:Not impressed. (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587487)

I'm wondering when the monkeys will learn to use their new arm to, you know, -ahem- spank the monkey. (poor things ... locked alone in cages ... arms immobilized ... a monkey's gotta do SOMETHING to relieve the er, boredom, right?)

On a separate note, when can I get my cyborg-enhanced trunkmonkey> [youtube.com] ?

Angelic Layer. (1)

Shinmizu (725298) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585903)

Sweet, that's a definite big step. So, when can we start having Angelic Layer tournaments? (For the likely great number of you unfamiliar with the series, imagine "mentally controlled kung-fu action figures." Sure as hell beats Magic: The Gathering and Halo tournaments.)

OMG Old! (2, Interesting)

ggalvao (1000487) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585937)

Miguel Nicolelis is doing this kind of job and seems to be much more advanced. http://www.thinkartificial.org/machine-interfaces/monkey-brain-makes-robot-walk/ [thinkartificial.org] He actually made a monkey in the US control a robot in Japan by walking on a treadmill. The monkey had a screen showing the robot. After realizing that she (the monkey) could actually move the robot by thinking, she developed in her brain something that enabled her to control the robot and not have to walk herself. Thus, she could earn the rewards and not have to spend her energy. Very interesting stuff.

How long until.... ? (1)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | more than 6 years ago | (#23585953)

How long until one of these monkeys kills the scientists with his robotic arm, in retaliation for them removing his perfectly good arm?

Re:How long until.... ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586099)

Apeaggedon.

Re:How long until.... ? (4, Funny)

117 (1013655) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586233)

How long until one of these monkeys kills the scientists with his robotic arm, in retaliation for them removing his perfectly good arm?
If they keep interrupting me whilst I'm trying to post on /. , then not much longer....

Whatever happened to.. (2, Interesting)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586071)

Back in the early 80s there was major buzz about using computers to restore movement to people paralyzed by spinal injuries. In a nutshell, a computer would send properly sequenced jolts to the person's leg muscles, enabling them to walk. In tests this more or less worked. The electronics at the time were too big to make it practical but the hope was that in the future (now) computers would be portable and powerful enough to do the job. I recall a number of hopeful reports on "60 Minutes" regarding this research, and even a TV movie about the researcher leading the effort. But all this seems to have fallen off the radar.

Anyone have the straight dope on this research? Because if it does work it stands to reason that if a person could control an artificial limb with their thoughts controlling real limbs would also be possible.

Re:Whatever happened to.. (2, Informative)

Molochi (555357) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587075)

As I recall, direct electrical stimulation, eventually killed the nuerons. Though I don't know why they couldn't eventually have a mechanical-to-biological interface that duplicated the natural one non destructiveness.

So let me... (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586151)

(Brain Interface Lets Monkeys Control Prosthetic Limbs) + (New Robots Developed to Climb Walls) + (U.S. Plan for "Thinking Machines" Repository)

*sigh*

I, for one, welcome our new U.S. monkey brain controlled wall climbing robotic thinking machine overlords.

This isn't as easy as it used to be...

Still a long way to go (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586213)

Clumsy movements at best. The monkey grabs the marshmallow by moving its head instead of really using its prosthesis. It looks like it has only one degree of freedom. Still, a good achievement but nowhere near what is needed for a tree cyborg body :-)

Re:Still a long way to go (1)

CanadianRealist (1258974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586421)

I think that you are being a bit too negative. Look at the large images and go back and forth between images 3 through 5 a few times. The monkey barely moves his head compared to how much the arm moves. Without being able to move the arm, the monkey would never get the marshmallow.

As for the question of degrees of freedom, I was trying to figure that out but it's hard to say. It looks like there could be both "shoulder" and "elbow" joints, but it's not clear. However looking at images 2 and 3, the fingers definitely close to grab the marshmallow. Does that count?

"tree cyborg body"?
Unless that's a typo, that would seem to be pretty simple since all I would expect of a tree cyborg is for it to sit there and do nothing. I think even I could manage to build something like that.

At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586319)

The perfect butler!

Not very practical... (1)

stilltron (876042) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586521)

How are we going to attach a monkey with robot a robot arm to our torsos?

not for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23586595)

I wouldn't want a monkey brain to control *my* prothetic limb!

ball moving (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 6 years ago | (#23586639)

"In experiments published in the June 7 issue of the journal Science, monkeys were able to move balls around in 3D space on a computer screen just by thinking about it"

i can move balls around in 3d space just by thinking about stuff, too. don't ask "what" stuff - that's a trade secret. ok, ok.. i'll give you a hint: it rhymes with prom and born.

obligatory... (1)

NotYoMama (946300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23587245)

I, for one, welcome our new Robotic Arm Poo-Flinging Monkey Overlords
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