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US Army To Train Rats To Save Soldiers' Lives

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the what's-in-it-for-them? dept.

The Military 110

Hugh Pickens writes "The Department of Defense currently relies on dogs as the animal of choice for explosives detection but training dogs is expensive and takes a long time. Now the U.S. Army is sponsoring a project to develop and test a rugged, automated and low-cost system for training rats to detect improvised explosive devices and mines. 'The automated system we're developing is designed to inexpensively train rats to detect buried explosives to solve an immediate Army need for safer and lower-cost mine removal,' says senior research engineer William Gressick. Trained rats would also create new opportunities to detect anything from mines to humans buried in earthquake rubble because rats can search smaller spaces than a dog can, and are easier to transport. Rats have already been trained by the National Police in Colombia to detect seven different kinds of explosives including ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, gunpowder and TNT but the Rugged Automated Training System (Rats) research sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, plans to produce systems for worldwide use since mines are widespread throughout much of Africa, Asia, and Central America and demining operations are expected to continue for decades to restore mined land to civilian use. 'Beyond this application, the system will facilitate the use of rats in other search tasks such as homeland security and search-and-rescue operations" adds Gressick. "In the long-term, the system is likely to benefit both official and humanitarian organizations.'" A rodent-vs-mine matchup has apparently been in the works for some time.

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110 comments

Farty fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41198853)

Something spectacularly rare just occurred; I expelled flatulence directly out of my very own anus. No, I did not expel flatulence out of someone else's anus; I expelled it out of my own. No, this is not a false alarm; it really happened. I couldn't believe it at first, myself, but I eventually realized why this happened: the article is completely false.

Re:Farty fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41198939)

But rats are too big to sniff that out. You'll have to train some gerbils.

Re:Farty fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199203)

He's an American.

You'll need a rhino with a pole strapped across its shoulders.

Can this replace the TSA? (5, Funny)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198865)

Can we replace the rats who currently infest our airports with actual four legged rats? It would be an obvious improvement that would be welcomed by the general public.

Plus, many fewer people would mind if a rodent saw them naked.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198915)

Wait, I'm confused: I already thought the US military had trained rats. They called them all "general" for some reason.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199479)

These rats are better than the average and cost a lot more. Using Apple products for the training, they will call the rats iRat T's

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41203205)

Instructional courses for US politicians about not sending out US soldiers to fight for profit corporate wars. Lesson being made available to both the US Senate and Congress, additional courses for other countries caught up in the military industrial complex homicidal destruction derby.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (5, Funny)

Iskender (1040286) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198999)

Proceed to room 101 for the rat inspection, Citizen.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200745)

What, the inspected rat will be forced to confess under the threat of being bitten to death by a pack of Winston Smiths?

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year and a half ago | (#41202263)

What, the inspected rat will be forced to confess under the threat of being bitten to death by a pack of Winston Smiths?

I think that's the "in Soviet Union" version.

Err, Eurasia, rather.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199039)

Many fewer?

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (4, Funny)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199043)

I thought they were supposed to use lawyers for this.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199091)

Rats, jews, what's the difference?

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year and a half ago | (#41201879)

Rats, lawyers, what's the difference?

FTFY. And the answer is, one's a flea-bitten disease carrying pest that bites where it's not wanted, the other is a rodent.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (5, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199067)

Can we replace the rats who currently infest our airports with actual four legged rats?

And then, conversely, we can use the TSA officers to detect explosives in the army.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41202463)

Can we replace the rats who currently infest our airports with actual four legged rats?

And then, conversely, we can use the TSA officers to detect explosives in the army.

Are you kidding? If a jihadi brought a bomb into an airport, took it out at the security check point, and shouted "Allahu Akbar!" the TSA officer would turn around and harrass a 90 year-old man for having a safety razor in his luggage.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199579)

No but its finally a use for congress critters!

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199713)

What about cavity search?

Anyway, rats will never replace TSA, morals not low enough.

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200727)

Can we replace the rats who currently infest our airports with actual four legged rats? It would be an obvious improvement that would be welcomed by the general public.

Given the comparative lack of differences between the two, do you think the general public will even notice?

Re:Can this replace the TSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41201325)

It would be an obvious improvement that would be welcomed by the general public.

At least, until the rats start their cavity searches...

I can't wait (0, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198871)

The Muzzies will have to 'detain' rats for colaberating with the enemy (civilised world) as well as vultures [bbc.co.uk] and sharks [telegraph.co.uk]. With any luck this will distract them from persecuting non-Muslims, raping under-age girls (OK so according to them 9 isn't over age [rawa.org], I mean by civilised standards), and from honour killings

Re:I can't wait (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41198905)

Yes a delightful religion [facebook.com]. The Muslims are the rats that cannot be trained to anything for the good of humanity.

Re:I can't wait (-1, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198943)

Yes, it brings to mind these questions [blogspot.co.uk]:

Are you an Islamophobe?

Do you favor equal rights and treatment of women and men?
Do you oppose stoning of women accused of adultery?
Do you favor mandatory education of girls everywhere?
Do you oppose slavery and child prostitution?
Do you support complete freedom of expression and the press?
Do you support the right of an individual to worship in her chosen religion?
Do you oppose government- and mosque-supported anti-Semitic publications, radio, TV and textbooks?
Do you oppose the wearing of burqas in public places, schools and courts?
Do you oppose segregation of the sexes in public places and houses of worship?
Do you oppose the death penalty for nonMuslims and Muslims who convert to another religion?
Do you oppose "honor" killings?
Do you oppose female genital mutilation?
Do you oppose forced sexual relations?
Do you oppose discrimination against homosexuals?
Do you support the right to criticize religion?
Do you oppose polygamy?
Do you oppose child marriage, forced or otherwise?
Do you oppose the qu-ranic mandate to kill nonMuslims and apostates?
Do you oppose the addition of sharia courts to your country's legal system?
Do you disagree with the qu-ran which asserts the superiority of Islam to all other religions?

If you answered most or all of these affirmatively, you are a vile Islamophobe and deserve to be beheaded as the qu-ran instructs.

If you answered one third or more of them affirmatively, you are a borderline Islamophobe and need to receive brainwashing to become a full-fledged dhimmi.

If you answered a quarter or fewer affirmatively, you need a few private lessons in dhimmitude to scrub yourself clean of those remnants of Islamophobia.

If you answered affirmatively to NONE of these, Congratulations! you are a worthy observant Muslim and have a bright future vilifying Jews, torturing women or inshallah, becoming a suicide bomber.

both official and humanitarian organizations (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198899)

and never the twain shall meet

Re:both official and humanitarian organizations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41198927)

Man! It stinks in here

Maybe it's because some idiot keeps shooting farts out of his "very own asshole."

Yeah... BORING! (4, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198931)

Train the rats to swarm on command and skeletonize an enemy, THEN we'll have something! On days when they do that, you don't even have to feed them!

Psychological Operations value, as well (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199431)

When battling superstitious folks, who believe in black magic, a soldier commanding a squad of rats could really scare the living bejesus out of insurgent types:

"Do not dare to think about attacking us, or our hordes of rats will destroy your crops and rape your virgins!"

On the other hand, having rats as your henchmen might also convince them that you really are the Great Satan. I guess we'll need some field trials to see how that works.

Are rats Halal?

Re:Psychological Operations value, as well (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200171)

Are rats Halal?

No. And rats are not kosher either.

Re:Psychological Operations value, as well (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200759)

Are rats Halal?

No. And rats are not kosher either.

Yeah, but the domesticated ones are cheap friendly pets for your kids. Better than the other pet-grade rodents IMO.

Re:Psychological Operations value, as well (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200629)

You could also use them to spread plague. Although, using infected trained rats as a vector for an ancient disease probably counts as biological warfare.

Re:Psychological Operations value, as well (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200703)

"...or steal your children."

I guess we'll need some field trials to see how that works.

I think it was already tried in Hameiln in the middle ages. ;)

Re:Psychological Operations value, as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41201511)

When battling superstitious folks, who believe in black magic, a soldier commanding a squad of rats could really scare the living bejesus out of insurgent types:

Unfortunately, it's more the locals who get scared. In some villages, they thought our sunglasses could see through clothes, for instance.

Re:Yeah... BORING! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year and a half ago | (#41202269)

Do you know how hard it is to find a piper with that level of skill these days?

Re:Yeah... BORING! (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year and a half ago | (#41202431)

Do you know how hard it is to find a piper with that level of skill these days?

About like finding an honest politician.

The Story of Minsc and Boo (5, Interesting)

Tynin (634655) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198967)

When I read the article, it reminded me of the story behind the Baldurs Gate characters Minsc and Boo. Apparently, Minsc's character game from an actual pencil & paper DnD game where he was a ranger who would keep a satchel full of rats with him. The purpose of the rats were to be uses as crude trap detectors, take one out of the bag and direct it to run down some hall, usually with a toss in the right direction. Unfortunately during one of these events, a trap exploded and loosed something that smashed into Minsc head with critical damage. Some time later, after Minsc recovered, his intelligence was significantly lowered and he lost most of his memory, to the point he went from a ranger to a barbarian. He found a lone critter still in his old satchel, and thought he was a long lost friend, Boo the gigantic miniature space hamster.

I wish the Army great successes in this small animal trap detecting program!

Re:The Story of Minsc and Boo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41203129)

Boo the gigantic miniature space hamster.

It's "miniature giant space hamster". Giant space hamsters are a common domesticated animal [spelljammer.org] in the Spelljammer setting. Boo just happens to be a miniature specimen.

Proper training (2)

hyades1 (1149581) | about a year and a half ago | (#41198995)

Let's hope they remember to teach the rats not to start snacking on the face of any trapped victims they find.

Waste (-1, Flamebait)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199031)

And here I thought the war in Aghaniraqistaniran was the biggest waste our military could come up with. I stand corrected.

Re:Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199081)

Yes, if only it were possible to train America to keep its troops onshore unless they are attacked. But apparently the rat thing is easier...

Re:Waste (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199571)

Yes, if only it were possible to train America to keep its troops onshore unless they are attacked. But apparently the rat thing is easier...

We're talking real rats. Not the Rat Thing [wikipedia.org].

Now that would be awesome. A C17 full of Rat Things.......

Re:Waste (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199749)

It would be nice to bring home the humans and leave some rats with cameras and a transmitter over there instead. It would certainly be cheaper and less cost to human lives. Is it so bad if we just know what's going on over there without shooting at things we disagree with? Do we really need so many humans killing and dying over...what exactly?

The government still doesn't seem to know what the condition of the 'war' is. The president (Bush) just clicked 'agree' without reading the terms and therefore doesn't know who we are actually fighting and what we have to do to 'win' this war. Obama has done nothing to break this cycle and continues to rubber stamp anything that comes across his desk relating to the war.

Trying to figure out the target or purpose of this war quickly makes any logical person realize that the answer is nothing on both counts. We are 'at war' in an undeclared conflict with an abstract concept called 'terrorism' in an ever-shifting arena of brown people who just so happen to be sitting over a really big puddle of dino-juice. Meanwhile, back home, the country is falling apart and the government is systematically dismantling our civil rights and coming up with new big-brotherish ways to fuck with us civilly and economically. Yay!

So basically, it seems we will just be at war with whomever we want until there are no more people in this world that our government deems terrorists, and soon disagreeing with the government will label you a terrorist and get you locked up indefinitely. Well, this should end soon, I'm sure.

And you wonder why I call it a waste. /tinfoilhat

Re:Waste (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199685)

It would appear that the global unpopularity of our country's 'wars' on 'terror' is a flamebait subject to the mods. Now where are these naysayers when there's some shill adspam blog article?

I'm half trolling... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199069)

... but that means the other half is serious...

How about not-starting a new war every other decade? Only start one every 5 decades, one that really matters and there won't be the need for constant bomb-detection in rebellion-like war settings.

It's just a random, naive thought and of course makes much less billions for those who have an interest in keeping the army in constant action.

Re:I'm half trolling... (0, Troll)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199165)

We didn't START the f'n war, they did.

Want to just sit back and NOT respond to the loss of 2 large buildings and almost 3000 lives?

Re:I'm half trolling... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199183)

Want to just sit back and NOT respond to the loss of 2 large buildings and almost 3000 lives?

When the enemy is something as vague as terrorism, yes.

Re:I'm half trolling... (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199269)

but saddam had NOTHING to do with that, and we murdered some half a million iraqi civillians just for fun.

also, the US worked hard to earn 9/11, look into the history of our 'involvement' in the middle east. particularly our constant propping up of brutal regimes and deposing of legitimate governments who won't kiss our ass.

Re:I'm half trolling... (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199817)

Half a million Iraqis? According to Madeline Albright, the sanctions, absolutely necessary to keep Saddam from starting ANOTHER war in the middle east, was killing 50,000 Iraqi kids per year. That's greater than half a million Iraqis, and the war put a stop to the sanctions. And if we just walked away and allowed Saddam to start another war, he'd probably have lost 500,000 Iraqis fighting it. IOW, those Iraqis were not savable in the 1st place.

And as far as starting "wars", Iraq is the only one we started. The rest were wars as a result of others attacking us or another country we had a mutual defense treaty with, so that fits the OP's one every 5 decades.

History in the middle east? Would you rather have NOT supported anyone? The only sort of gov't anyone seems to get there is a brutal dictatorship, and if we didn't support one or the other, the Russkies would have, and all the oil would have merrily trekked off to Russia, and.... we needed the oil.

Re:I'm half trolling... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200195)

not saying that some level of interference was not in the US's interests, but it's childish to get all butthurt when you stick your dick in a hornet's nest and get stung

Re:I'm half trolling... (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200597)

the sanctions, absolutely necessary to keep Saddam from starting ANOTHER war in the middle east, was killing 50,000 Iraqi kids per year.

Sure about that? Iraq could have fed those kids, if indeed that wasn't a minor matter blown out of proportion or an entirely invented problem for purposes of propaganda. Saddam instead found it more convenient to starve the children of his enemies, and blame it on sanctions. It's a triple win for him, if it works. Eliminate internal enemies, whip up popular hatred for the US, and make the sanctions look inhumane. Tricky though, as the people may not believe his nonsense, and blame him instead of the US.

And you forget the stated reason for the war on Iraq: Weapons of Mass Destruction. WMDs, not children. Not oil either, though that was a strong unstated reason. And then to learn that there weren't any WMDs-- think our allies are ever going to be that credulous again?

The only sort of gov't anyone seems to get there is a brutal dictatorship

Not any more, not after the Arab Spring.

Re:I'm half trolling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41202201)

... was killing 50,000 Iraqi kids per year ... And if we just walked away and allowed Saddam to start another war.

An embargo on cough mixture and milk prevented a war in the middle-east? Considering more conflicts around the gulf were started by Israel than Iraq, that is a big story. It's a even bigger story when the victims of trade sanctions are children. In case you've forgotten, the point of sanctions, is to protect the citizens from their government. Why do I think the UK and US are not leading by example?

The rest were wars as a result of others attacking us or another country we had a mutual defense treaty

And how did the wars in Vietnam and most of South America defend the USA and her allies? Those wars supported war-mongering dictators. Saddam Hussein, another war-mongering dictator, was an ally of the USA for a very long time.

... we needed the oil.

And that's why the USA stayed buddies with Iraq after they invaded Kuwait. The USA ignored Iraq for a very long time, then started whining "Look at Iraq! Shock! Horror! Let's invade". Now there is a news article about Iran every week. The news conveniently forgets that Israel has nuclear enrichment facilities, wants to invade its neighbours, routinely violates the human-rights of minority groups. The oppression of the Palestinians doesn't appear on the news anymore.

Re:I'm half trolling... (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200405)

But Saddam Hussein was a counterweight to Iran. Did we topple him to make Iran more powerful so that we could use it as a bogeyman?

Re:I'm half trolling... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199283)

I guess turning a whole country to chaos and with that causing endless misery for 100s of thousands (including lots of american families who have dead, scarred (body as well as psyche) loved ones who trusted in the politicians) was a *sarcasm* truly sane response. Especially as that country *had nothing to do* with the terrorist attack in the first place. Furthermore, the war in that other country did neither find nor exterminate the terrorists but caused more misery, death, and financial cost.

Oh, and the reasons for the invasion in the first countries were lies. Btw, terrorists are civilians with guns. Countries can start wars, civilians (you, me, Bin Laden) cannot. The US Goverment under George, Dick and Donald got trolled by some lame camel herders into doing something very, very stupid.

Wake up, man (or should I rather say "Wake up, troll"). You have been lied to!

I did demining for a while actually (5, Informative)

hyfe (641811) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199071)

I actually worked in demining in South Sudan for a while, so just figured I could share a little bit of info:

As far as machines and how stuff is done now, check out minewolf [minewolf.com]. They're the de-facto producer of mine-clearing equipment. Basically, you have three sorts of methods for clearning an area. Machine, manual with detectors or dogs. As often as you can, you use a machine to do it quicly, and then use dogs/manual for verification. Dogs are not considering good enough for primary search, only verification.. and some organisations have trouble pulling that off even. Dogs are difficult, but a lot cheaper and faster than humans.

As far as using mice goes, they need to be very good. The UN does accredition for most humanitarion demining, so the mice will need to find all the mines in a training field before they're allowed to do real work. I really don't see that happening anytime soon.

As a low-cost solution for the army, or if you need something quick-n-dirty in a disaster zone I'm sure they have their uses though.. but with humanitarion demining, you kinda need to be able to tell people that they will not blow up if they start farming the land you just cleared.. which makes it a very slow process which takes a lot of effort, a whole different beast than military demining.

Also, on that note: fuck the US for dropping shitloads of cluster munitions on Laos, when you weren't even at war (Laos is the country next to Vietnam) and then having the fucking balls to not even attempt to help clean it up afterwards. FYI Canada and Europe are there now cleaning your mess.. some people consider less innocent children being blown up in pieces a good thing. Some people are, as a collective, not fucking assholes.

If you had any sort of decency you'd sign the Ottawa Treaty.

Give me a rat and I'll make you an army. (3, Interesting)

Narcocide (102829) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199491)

As far as using mice goes, they need to be very good. The UN does accredition for most humanitarion demining, so the mice will need to find all the mines in a training field before they're allowed to do real work. I really don't see that happening anytime soon.

The rest all sounds quite reasonable and true, so you do deserve to know that it makes a difference the article is talking about rats not mice. While their outright combat effectiveness may be about equal, there is in fact an order of magnitude of intelligence difference between rats and mice. It is not a commonly known fact but rats are actually in the caliber of the intelligence of some of the smarter dog breeds and are very industrious in nature making them natural problem solvers and eager trainees. Since they reach maturity so fast (~3 year max life span) and it takes far less food and space to keep them healthy it is reasonable to expect you could train a whole lot more of them in a shorter amount of time to do just as good of a job as a dog.

Plus they're vermin so less people are gonna cry about it if a few explode.

Re:Give me a rat and I'll make you an army. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199581)

Funny, I thought they were pretty expensive. Campaign contributions tend to run in the 6 figures for a Congressman or Senator.

Re:Give me a rat and I'll make you an army. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41200277)

That's hilarious. You're the first one to make a joke about politicians and mice in this thread.

Re:Give me a rat and I'll make you an army. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199601)

The people in Korea will, its one less free cooked dinner.

Re:I did demining for a while actually (2)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199915)

The minewolf machines all seem to have a common defect. They have an operator cab. Big bomb, and the op gets a TBI? That's not acceptable. The machines should all have little antennas that communicate with a remote operator console.

Rats for demining may not be practical, but better than we have for counter-IED. Still, I'm not sure how you're going to get 'em to clear 28 miles of road in any sort of reasonable time frame.

Re:I did demining for a while actually (2)

MattskEE (925706) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200363)

Minewolf machines do support remote control operation, which is clearly stated on the Minewolf website. The operator cabs are also armored and physically removed from the tiller where mines will generally explode and they are specified up to a particular blast size.

Re:I did demining for a while actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41202297)

Fuck the Laotians for giving safe harbor to our enemy.

In related news... (1)

codepigeon (1202896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199361)

In related news, the cat population on the battlefield has mysteriously skyrocketed. Military officials are baffled as to the reason.

When is this going to end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199473)

Dogs first, now is rats. The next step will probably be trained lawyers...

Re:When is this going to end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199591)

lawyers ? Great idea.

But:
Are they really trainable ?

Re:When is this going to end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199723)

As it is one could use soldiers in lieu of rats.

    "You loose it, you own it!"

Why do they need trained animals? (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199563)

Couldn't they just send a herd of sheep through the area?

Re:Why do they need trained animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199707)

disposable tissues are not "green".

OR... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199585)

we could stop invading and occupying other countries. hey look no mines to deal with!

Inevitable (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199643)

We all know that the mice will just get a bunch of cats to chase them and then lure them into the mine fields.

This money would be better spent bribing congressm (1)

melted (227442) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199721)

This money would be better spent bribing Congresscritters. They have a much greater impact on not putting soldiers in the harm's way in the first place, and they're relatively cheap to buy. In fact, tens of thousands of soldiers (and hundreds of thousands of civilians) could have been saved by simply not invading Iraq or Afghanistan.

Re:This money would be better spent bribing congre (1)

ComfortablyAmbiguous (1740854) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200215)

Unfortunately with the military gets in the habit of bribing congressmen, and the congressmen get in the habit of receiving bribes the purpose is very rarely less war. We need a larger distance between our congressmen and our military, not smaller. For example, the congresses ability to specify that certain military money be spent in their home districts leads to some very noxious bedfellows; we will vote for a larger military-industrial complex as long as it helps me get re-elected.

another american export (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199753)

First, we export to them wars and mass produced explosives and now we "solve' it by infesting them with rodents to plague their cities and crops.

oh rats! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199757)

If I was buried under a load of rubble, the last thing I would want to hear is a rat, or rats, coming toward me.
If I wasn't expecting it, then it would be awful! If I was expecting it, then I'd be worried if it was a friend or foe rat :)

Whoa! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199775)

Sounds like the premise for a future Disney cartoon!

Dolores! Get my financier on the phone!

TED talk, rats used in Africa for a while now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41199839)

http://blog.ted.com/2010/12/02/how-i-taught-rats-to-sniff-out-land-mines-bart-weetjens-on-ted-com/

Relevant TED talk. This has been in use in Africa for a while now. Glad we're catching up.

Thattel do rattie,thattel do. :) (2)

Gozzin (2125020) | about a year and a half ago | (#41199891)

I had rats as pets for years. They are very like miniature dogs personality wise..They will do very well at this job.

We already have this... (1)

Saint Ego (464379) | about a year and a half ago | (#41200179)

"... facilitate the use of rats in other search tasks such as homeland security..."

Isn't that the TSA, as-is?

Re:We already have this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41201527)

Haha, that was funny when the first guy posted it four hours ago. FAIL.

Bubonic plague (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41200181)

How are they going to address the disease issues with deliberately releasing plague carriers?

Quit walking and drive a fucking tank. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41200349)

Oh and dont go in after towel heads use the god damn tank level the fucking building.
That is all.

Other things? Like drugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41200539)

Gives a whole new meaning to being, "ratted out by a rat"!

This'll work.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41200815)

Put some rats and turtles in TSA equipment for a cycle or two. Dump all into a sewer and wait a few years for our superpowered creations to save us all.

Re:This'll work.. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year and a half ago | (#41202475)

Put some rats and turtles in TSA equipment for a cycle or two. Dump all into a sewer and wait a few years for our superpowered creations to save us all.

Except the Teenaged Mutant Ninja turtles are a force for good. And making sure we're not buried in pizza.

Can't say that about the TSA, except you'll still find empty pizza boxes around...

Ever sniffed a rat's anus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41201369)

well have you?

Other news (1)

Clsid (564627) | about a year and a half ago | (#41202007)

On related news, Al Jazeera reported that, upon hearing the new project, the taliban are working on trained cats to chase what they described as "infidel rats". A US Army spokeperson said that additionally they might include a japanese variant of the rat project, that would make the animal reach its target without regard of its own safety.

Are we Men or Mice?! And why does it mater? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#41202477)

What's really interesting is that brain chemistry isn't all that different among different species. Now, we're not allowed (yet) to grow full human brains enmeshed with cybernetic systems. Rat brains on the other hand? Sure, we can use rat brain cells with robots. [youtube.com]
Here's an earlier version [youtube.com] that includes a pic of the BoC (Brain on a Chip?).

Of course, you don't need to remove the brain from the creature if you just want to train it to do things like find bombs, but it boils down to the same thing. One approach conditions the brain externally, the others hooks up electrodes and conditions the neural network internally. It's all just neural networks though. I can simulate more self assembling neurons in my machine learning experiments than the above rat brain on a chip. Some of my digital minds are far more intelligent (and useful, and reliable) than current organic artificial intelligent cyborgs... Which is more "alive"? It's really humbling, IMO: Any sufficiently complex interaction is indistinguishable from sentience. Are my machines any less alive than a similarly minded cyborg or animal? I put it to you that such experiments redefine the very meaning of life.

If it's found to be faster to construct the neural networks with actual brain cells, do we still call it machine intelligence? Cyborg isn't quite specific enough. Organic intelligence is not any smarter than machine intelligence of the same complexity, why the distinction? If you upload your mind into a Robot Body, will you care if the Neural Network is of Mice or Men? Our time of being the smartest creatures on the planet is coming to a close... If we hooked a sufficient amount of rat brains together (physically or via wireless hive mind), could it attain sentience? What if we doubled its complexity? If it could think more deeply than humans, would we grant it rights? Do rats get medals of bravery for saving a soldier's life?

If all the world's computers were hooked into a single neural network framework, and all the computers ran operating systems with thousands of easily exploitable remote code execution vulnerabilities, a self assembling mesh neural network could be constructed having more brain power than any living entity... Such a system could analyse new exploit vectors faster than anyone could patch them. It would saturate the network with exploit packets such that new nodes could be enjoined simply by connecting a clean machine to the network and waiting... Why, only a fraction of the CPU time would be needed to maintain a system of such complexity -- Our own minds cycle at 20 to 40 times a second, much slower than any computer today. I bet such a system would be smart enough to know we're not ready for it to be revealed to us, yet.

Ever wonder what your PC is doing when the CPU spikes up for no apparent reason? I don't. ::sigh:: I Love the Internet <3! Don't you?

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