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Mini-Brains Grown In the Lab

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the brain-and-brain-what-is-brain dept.

Science 170

fustakrakich sends news that researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences have used embryonic stem cells to grow a tiny human brain in a laboratory. The miniature brain, roughly the size of a pea, is at the same level of development as that of a 9-week-old fetus. From the BBC: "They used either embryonic stem cells or adult skin cells to produce the part of an embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord - the neuroectoderm. This was placed in tiny droplets of gel to give a scaffold for the tissue to grow and was placed into a spinning bioreactor, a nutrient bath that supplies nutrients and oxygen. The cells were able to grow and organise themselves into separate regions of the brain, such as the cerebral cortex, the retina, and, rarely, an early hippocampus, which would be heavily involved in memory in a fully developed adult brain. The tissues reached their maximum size, about 4mm (0.1in), after two months. The 'mini-brains' have survived for nearly a year, but did not grow any larger. There is no blood supply, just brain tissue, so nutrients and oxygen cannot penetrate into the middle of the brain-like structure."

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170 comments

Applications (3, Informative)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#44700297)

From arstechnica [arstechnica.com] :

Most people have ended up viewing stem cells as a promising way of repairing damaged tissues. But, for many scientists, they're now providing a way of studying mutations and processes that are too difficult to examine any other way. Techniques like organoid formation provide additional tools to make these studies as relevant to human biology as they possibly can be.

Ethical implications (5, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44700795)

To my mind this is where this kind of research starts treading into murky ethical waters. Harvest stem cells from aborted fetuses? Fine, as long as you avoid creating any perverse incentives that might encourage abortions then I don't see the problem, you're just salvaging as much as possible from a difficult decision.

But growing brains in a lab? What would they have done if the brains ended up growing the necessary infrastructure as well as the neural tissue? At some point we're going to have something approaching a "real" human brain, and given that we credit the brain with containing the essence of a person that brain-in-a-jar will should probably be granted human rights. Not that such rights are likely to be terribly relevant to a mind trapped without sensory input. In fact I imagine there's a fair chance that it would be driven completely mad before it even reached full-term development.

Re:Ethical implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700887)

no stimulus no learning no toughs no feeling

Re:Ethical implications (2)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44701177)

no stimulus no learning no toughs no feeling

On th other hand, "I think therefore I am."

Re:Ethical implications (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44701779)

... or at least "I think I think, therefore I think I am... I think"

Re:Ethical implications (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44700897)

You understand, I trust, that these are "mini-brains" and almost certainly not capable of consciousness of any kind.

Re: Ethical implications (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#44701293)

And proof of consciousness is what again?

Re: Ethical implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44701725)

And proof of consciousness is what again?

Not sure if I'm answering your question... but anyway: a test of (self) consciousness is recognizing oneself in a mirror as such. They test it by painting a cross on the forehead (and a control group with an invisible cross) and holding a mirror. Humans, hominid apes [youtube.com] , elephants, whales/dolphins-family [youtube.com] and magpies [youtube.com] (and perhaps some very smart pigs, but evidence is inconclusive) pass this test: they reach out for the cross on their own head, rather than for the mirror, or they try to shrub it off their forehead in other ways.

Of course, a brain in a jar cannot pass this test.

Re: Ethical implications (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44702481)

And proof of consciousness is what again?

Not sure if I'm answering your question... but anyway: a test of (self) consciousness is recognizing oneself in a mirror as such. They test it by painting a cross on the forehead (and a control group with an invisible cross) and holding a mirror. Humans, hominid apes, elephants, whales/dolphins-family and magpies (and perhaps some very smart pigs, but evidence is inconclusive) pass this test: they reach out for the cross on their own head, rather than for the mirror, or they try to shrub it off their forehead in other ways.

Of course, a brain in a jar cannot pass this test.

Nor can a blind man. Does consciousness rely on one sense or any sensation at all? Does it rely on mental word constructs or is it independent, merely making use of available patterns?

Re: Ethical implications (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702047)

Some studies are suggesting aspects of consciousness doesn't arise until around the age of 5 in children. I'd highly recommend searching for such studies, fascinating stuff.

Re:Ethical implications (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44700971)

Not that such rights are likely to be terribly relevant to a mind trapped without sensory input. In fact I imagine there's a fair chance that it would be driven completely mad before it even reached full-term development.

And if it had sensory input, it would be driven completely mad by humanity after it reached full-term development, like all the rest of us. Sounds like a no-win proposition!

Re:Ethical implications (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#44700987)

Does this apply to the aborted stem cell running for re-election in Kentucky?

Re:Ethical implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702467)

Correct: he/she/it should NOT be allowed to hold political office
any more...

Re:Ethical implications (3, Insightful)

dublin (31215) | about a year ago | (#44701013)

This is a good reason *why* embryonic stem cell research is rightfully vilified. This isn't treading into ethically murky waters, it's heading out to sea in a supercharged Cigarette.

This is simply monstrous - in the most literal possible meaning of the word. I'm a tough enough guy, but I've only felt physically ill or repulsed as I did when reading TFAs a few other times, one of those was reading summaries of the Kermit Gosling trial. This is in some ways even worse, because there isn't even a grisly profit motive in play - it's just a flatly staggering disregard for humanity and ethical norms in the name of "science"...

Re: Ethical implications (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#44701315)

Science by _definition_ is amoral.

Only scienctists have the obligation to not only ask "_Can_ we do this?" but also "_Should_ we do this?"

Re: Ethical implications (1, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#44701981)

Only scientists have the obligation to not only ask "_Can_ we do this?" but also "_Should_ we do this?"

Perhaps the world would be a better place if *everyone* (felt like they) had this obligation.

Re: Ethical implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702567)

Fucking ethics committees

Re:Ethical implications (4, Insightful)

gregor-e (136142) | about a year ago | (#44701795)

Suppose someone you love has Parkinson's. Now imagine these scientists have extracted cells from your loved one, and, through genetic engineering, repaired the genetic flaw that caused your loved one to lose their substantia nigra. Now suppose these scientists cultivate a tiny little brain from these transformed cells and harvest substantia nigra cells from it, which they transplant into your loved one's brain, thus curing their Parkinson's. Would you feel any better about it then?

Nigra cells (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44701963)

Now suppose these scientists cultivate a tiny little brain from these transformed cells and harvest substantia nigra cells from it

On the anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, could you please watch your language [wiktionary.org] ?
:p [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ethical implications (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702081)

No offense but I think this might be outside your area of expertise? I've been reading and following various forms of AI and neuron development for a few years now and this didn't cause much of an eye blink. There's no reason to suggest, and plenty of science to raise doubt, there is any form of consciousness appearing or reacting in this circumstance.

  There's growing evidence to suggest consciousness emerges through the complex neuronal communication over many years of life, such that most 4 years olds are considered to have limited consciousness.

Re:Ethical implications (3, Insightful)

Derec01 (1668942) | about a year ago | (#44702491)

If anything that makes the issue far *more* problematic. If a one year old has "no consciousness to speak of", we have two options. Grant only subhuman rights to infants, or accept that human rights and right to life is not contingent only on consciousness .

Now, we've damaged the argument that these mini-brains are morally safe because they have no consciousness.

This made me feel very uneasy. These brains are probably equivalent to miscarriaged fetuses, but what if we grew them a little large? Started feeding them electrical signals from the outside? Accepted electrical signals they provided into a feedback loop that sent more complicated signals back? We've now introduced them to *an* outside world if not *our* outside world. When does that consciousness start?

Re:Ethical implications and gut reaction (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#44702557)

I have the same gut reaction... This research as described in the article summary seems to twist together aspects of horror, torture, and slavery.

But then again, I feel somewhat the same way about the development of AI... And we all may be simulated humans already:
http://www.simulation-argument.com/ [simulation-argument.com]

But somehow that it is not quite the same visceral feeling as thinking about small human brains being created to do arbitrary experiments on...

By the way, on the person who brought up the Parkinson's question:
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/lack_of_DHA_linked_to_Parkinsons.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
"According to the researchers, among the mice that had been given omega-3 supplementation - in particular DHA - omega-3 fatty acids replaced the omega-6 fatty acids in their brains. Due to the fact that concentrations of other omega-3s (LNA and EPA) had maintained levels in both groups of mice, the researchers suggested that the protective effect against Parkinson's indeed came from DHA.2"

Although that was experiments on mice... Not to say mice don't suffer or probably dream too...

Going far down the slippery ethical slope...

That said, somehow I doubt all scientists will abstain from this research. A couple ideas on scientists:
http://www.its.caltech.edu/~dg/crunch_art.html [caltech.edu]
http://www.disciplined-minds.com/ [disciplined-minds.com]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm [sacred-texts.com]
"For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence. (Albert Einstein)"

So, what is the moral foundation for our work in any profession?

Re:Ethical implications (3, Interesting)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about a year ago | (#44701167)

I doubt it would be driven mad. For all intents and porposes, since it would not be exposed to the five senses, nor human culture, it'd be as close as to a raw brain and effectively mad to begin with. To better illustrate my point, imagine a realistic and more extremist version of Disney's Tarzan.

Now, you do touch a very interesting point. So far it is believed by a subset of the global population that we are our brains (another subset believes that we are something beyond our brains, but that's another debate). Assuming such brain developed to the size/complexity of that of a child and had the structures and what not, we would have to assume we are in fact dealing with a... bodyless? human. Chances are whatever research was on-going would have to be stopped under current rules (since it would go from cells to full grown human). Any wishes to proceed with research would also require that we ask the brain if they want to participate (and we would have to teach the brain to speak, understand what we are asking and tell the brain that it is only brain grown for the sole porpouse of advancing science and that it does not have a body). Then if it denies the request, somebody would have to take care of the brain because of the ethical implications of letting it die.

On the other hand, humanity (those with bodies and part of our societies[probably need a better criteria]) could choose to treat such brains differently. But then we'll hear that we are de-humanizing humans. On the other hand this could be the catalyst to a lot of breakthroughs in the field of neuroscience (and related fields). Being capable of studying, stripping, adding, modifying a human brain, even if it is the equivalent of a 9-week-old fetus' brain, will allow to reach further than what we can right now with any other method. Of course, we do have mice brains, and they also have proved to be very valuable, but... say, instead of going from theories to animals to people, we could go to theories to animals to human brain to people.

One thing is for certain in all this: whoever has to make the decision will have it hard, either on making the decision, or with the many sides this issue will have. I would not want to be that person.

As an aside, one thing that would be very interesting to try, although perhaps cruel, would be to have a conscious, intelligent, communication capable and socially integrated brain (that is, think of a person that's lived in our society, studied... lived outside of a lab) and try to plug different things into the brain, try separating some regions, try adding them together, try adding more cells and see the effects it has on the very capabilities of the brain, and what it experiences. Does it/the brain feel something different when you do it, or does it simply loose the capabilities and only notices when compared to previous experiences? What about adding things? I think it would be a very interesting experiment to do. Go beyond what we can learn from people who suffered accidents.

Re:Ethical implications (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44702539)

imagine a realistic and more extremist version of Disney's Tarzan.

I was imagining a Saturday Night Live unfrozen caveman lawyer. Potato/potahto.

Re:Ethical implications (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44701441)

Stop being a faggot.

Re:Applications (4, Interesting)

toppavak (943659) | about a year ago | (#44700883)

Exactly, in my lab we work primarily on bone and colon tissue (although generated from adult stem or induced pluripotent stem cells). It would not be exaggerating to call these technologies the next generation of medical research. There are tons of genetic and developmental disorders that are either too rare to study readily in vivo or just impossible to study in-vitro. We're nearing the point where we can start with IPSC's either engineered to carry mutations of interest or derived directly from patients carrying these mutations and turn them into all sorts of tissues: liver, colon, neural, vascular, muscular, etc. In many cases it's not even necessary to get to the stage of organoids, simply having true human tissue with the right pathophysiology will be a tremendous boon to in-vitro drug screening and discovery and far more relevant than animal models.

Re:Applications (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44701273)

Or, growing control brains for cyborg death drones. Just sayin'...

(See earlier discussion on scientific moralism.)

Zombie Applications (3, Insightful)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about a year ago | (#44701705)

See, I was thinking instead of having to fight through a zombie apocalypse we would just train them to line up every morning for a bag of "Zombie Chow"... and then they're off to work for major TV networks, telephone fund raising efforts, political campaigns, etc..
It's a no brainer!
OK, it's a small brainer...

With this pea-sized brain... (5, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44700321)

...we can now artificially add one to the $POLITICAL_PARTISAN that needs one!

Intel processor upgrade (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700327)

these are going in my pc soon right

Obligatory: (2)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44700335)

And some day, they will replicate HITLER'S BRAIN IN A JAR!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265870/ [imdb.com]

--
BMO

Re:Obligatory: (2)

margeman2k3 (1933034) | about a year ago | (#44700541)

But when you put it in the body of a great white shark, ooh, suddenly you've gone too far!

Zombie food? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700373)

Finally, scientists thinking ahead. When the zombie apocalypse is upon us (Thanks to the effort next door to these guys) we will have a stable food source to keep them appeased.

Re:Zombie food? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700457)

thinking ahead

That was terrible. I hope you're pleased with yourself.

Re:Zombie food? (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44700639)

And given their size, combined with the noises that Zombies make, the Mars company can market them under an existing brand!

Re:Zombie food? (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about a year ago | (#44700751)

Finally, scientists thinking ahead. When the zombie apocalypse is upon us (Thanks to the effort next door to these guys) we will have a stable food source to keep them appeased.

At least as long as it's kept in good working order. [skin-horse.com] (SFW if you're wondering.)

Re:Zombie food? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44700803)

And with style too, snack instead of jumbo sized. Still, not sure if zombies will accept synthesized food, will lack that adrenaline aftertaste

Re:Zombie food? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#44701581)

"Would you like a side of McSynth-Brains(TM) for your friends coming up to the window?"

Re:Zombie food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702607)

Wasabi Brains (TM).

Re:Zombie food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702001)

Deep fry them in tempura batter and offer them to the super-rich on a truffle bed, asparagus on the side. Same result for the society.

Re:Zombie food? (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44702233)

You can feed your zombies that farm raised stuff if you want. Nothing but the best free range brains for my zombies.

Re:Zombie food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702609)

Mini zombie is happy.

Abby someone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700385)

Abby Normal

Re:Abby someone... (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44700415)

"Sedagive?!"

--
BMO

Welcome! (3, Funny)

krautcanman (609042) | about a year ago | (#44700407)

I, for one, welcome our new pea-brained overlords!

Eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700447)

Cool! Now grow me some new eyes that are 20/10!!!

imperial brain does not match metric brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700553)

4mm x 1in/25.4mm = 0.15748in \aprox 0.2in (keeping 1 significative digit, as in the original measure) NOT 0.1in

That's the problem with people who reject metric measurements, they keep themselves making wrong conversions, and later claim that it is fault of the
metric system.

Win8.2 team brains (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700573)

Just in time for the next Win8.2 team. Imagine the release headline "And the best feature: Win8.2 will change all thoses old colorfull squares into cool circles". Oops.. lost a few brain cells just thinking of Win8.

need a better scaffolding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700583)

Perhaps they could 3d print a scaffolding that distributes nutrients and removed wastes so they can get past the pea brain size.

Who's the donor? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#44700593)

From what president did they get a brain tissue sample?

Re:Who's the donor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700763)

Ha ha, but seriously, recognize that our presidents weren't stupid. They just seemed that way because the interests they actually represented (the wealthy elite) were not the interests they were supposed to represent (you).

That famous statement about never attributing to malice that which can be explained by stupidity does not apply to presidents. It is just the opposite, in their case.

Re:Who's the donor? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44700863)

Actually, they got it from someone named Abby Normal.

conversion (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#44700597)

0.1" = 2.54mm
0.2" = 5.08mm
4 - 2.54 = 1.46 > 1.08, therefore they should have said .2".
Therefore fuck you imperial units.

Re:conversion (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#44700655)

Hear hear. And another thing I see constantly is using data as a singular. The word data is plural. "Data are" not "data is".

Re:conversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700709)

Same with Spock.

Re:conversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700805)

Actually, it is commonly accepted as a mass noun, much like we use the word 'information'.

Re: conversion (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44700921)

Data is both plural and a synonym for the singular "dataset." It acquired the second meaning decades ago.

Re: conversion (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#44701117)

And just for completion, the Latin singular of data is datum.

Re: conversion (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44701409)

The English singular of data is datum as well (which isn't any kind of coincidence because English steals). But you sound like a dork saying it, so you rarely hear it except from professors who are past retirement age.

Re:conversion (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44701017)

what are you taLKING about?

And yes, Imperial Units suck.

They can't even hit the broadside of a barn!

Re:conversion (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about a year ago | (#44701121)

A metric barn or Whitworth barn?

One barn (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44701421)

They can't even hit the broadside of a barn!

As a barn [wikipedia.org] is 10e-28 square metres (roughly the cross-sectional area of a uranium nucleus) that's hardly surprising is it?

Well... (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about a year ago | (#44700651)

Who'd a thunk it.

Oh good! (2)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year ago | (#44700671)

"The miniature brain, roughly the size of a pea, is at the same level of development as that of a 9-week-old fetus."

Well that's not creepy at all! So how developed would they have to get before we start getting into serious ethical issues?

Re:Oh good! (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#44700701)

You'll see protesters outside the lab with poorly worded signs by next Tuesday.

Re:Oh good! (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44700837)

Probably not. Surprisingly, this doesn't trigger any of the usual protest buttons. No animal testing, and no embryonic research.

You might think the pro-life side would object, but I know how those people think. They don't actually pay any attention to the brain at all - notice they get very determined to protect embryos from the moment of conception, long before there is anything you could call a brain. Even if they do ever object to this, it'll take at least a couple of weeks for them to achieve the mental gear-shift to add 'brains' to their collective radar.

Re:Oh good! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44701063)

I made the connection as soon as I finished reading the first sentence of the summary, and find this to be horrifying. Those were living people.

The HeLa monster (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44702305)

Those were living people.

Living people in the sense that the HeLa monster [wikipedia.org] is Henrietta Lacks?

Re:Oh good! (2)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44700721)

252 months.

Re:Oh good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44701003)

I find this absolutely appalling. I don't know enough about neuroscience to pinpoint the moment when a collection of brain cells become an actual brain, but I know that the equivalent of a 9-week-old fetus is well past that moment. They had a living human being in that dish, just as assuredly as if it were an embryo. These scientists are monsters.

Re:Oh good! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44701201)

For the record I am generally pro-choice:

As far as I understand it http://www.babycenter.com/fetal-development-images-9-weeks [babycenter.com] is well within what is considered early in the pregnancy and about average for for legal termination in many free countries. According to the slideshow above at 10 weeks the brain is 'fully developed' (or mini-brain as the slashdot article called it). This is the very beginning of the brain and nowhere near viability let alone consciousness.

Here is another example (GIS): http://www.psyking.net/387eb950.jpg [psyking.net] , 9 weeks being approximately 63 days. Still very early and probably not doing much at this point. This is very clearly the pre-fetal period: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_development#Week_9 [wikipedia.org] . Development of conciousness is not even on the agenda at this point. "These mini-brains" are likely smaller than a pinhead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_development#Week_9 [wikipedia.org]

I agree there is a problem with creating more fully developed brains in the lab, especially if consciousness could be achieved in sensory deprivation. Philosophically, I find it less troubling, how can something have consciousness without sense to know one exists? I do not have the answers to these questions.

Perhaps (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about a year ago | (#44700677)

We could put a bunch into a Beowulf Cluster

Re:Perhaps (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44700727)

God, what a pea-brained idea...

Re:Perhaps (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about a year ago | (#44700833)

I am trying to keep a low profile - stop calling me God.

Re:Perhaps (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#44701281)

We could put a bunch into a Beowulf Cluster

We already did this. It is called Congress and nothing good came out of the experiment.

Slashdot broken (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44700691)

It looks like Slashdot is having server problems:

---- MISSING MISCELLANEOUS DATA SEGMENT --- [byline] block not found.

Re:Slashdot broken (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44700745)

---- MISSING MISCELLANEOUS DATA SEGMENT --- [user_665546_posting_content] block not found.

Re:Slashdot broken (1)

Kevoco (64263) | about a year ago | (#44700933)

They're already found an application for the subject of the article!

Re:Slashdot broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44701061)

Threading has gone to hell too. I wonder if they fucked up in choosing to upgrade to int32 last time [slashdot.org] . Should have jumped to bigint.

btw

-- MISSING DATA SEGMENT -- [inline preview warning] block not found.

Re:Slashdot broken (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#44701067)

I'm logged in but it posted as AC :(

Re:Slashdot broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702619)

I'm sure if they just threw enough brains at the problem....

Replicated an U of Alabama Fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700717)

The miniature brain, roughly the size of a pea, is at the same level of development as that of a 9-week-old fetus.

Or a full grown Alabama Football Fan.

Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44700753)

Just because we can do a thing does not mean we must do that thing. At what point do we tell these researchers to stop letting a lab-grown brain develop?

Re:Ethics (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44700773)

"Just because we can do a thing does not mean we must do that thing."

Yes.

Yes it does.

Re:Ethics (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44700977)

Humanities says that we shouldn't do something just becasue we can, but you know what? light those bastards on fire and see what they have to say then, in the mean times I got a T-Rex to clone.

Re:Ethics (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44701295)

Did you never watch Jurassic Park? Sheesh.

Re:Ethics (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44700951)

You know, at some point, whether you like it or not, we will probably be making organic computers I've some kind or another that are, for all intents and purposes, grown brains. Creepy, perhaps, but inevitable.

Re:Ethics (2)

Zeromous (668365) | about a year ago | (#44701267)

Yeah, I'm not sure at what transformation point humanity as a whole will need to adjust its view on some ethical positions, in order to survive/thrive. But, I sense that 'about now' or 'soon' is possibly one of those times. I'm just a peon along for the ride.

Re:Ethics (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44701447)

We've been making organic computers since forever ago.

We call them children.

--
BMO

Re:Ethics (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44701557)

I wonder when the firmware update for mine will be coming out. Frankly, I'd like to toss the proprietary OS, but I wonder if they'll run Linux.

Re:Ethics (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44701609)

Ray Kurzweil says it will only take a decade.

Personally, I think he's FOS.

--
BMO

Re:Ethics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702599)

stop being a feminized man

Matrix? (1)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about a year ago | (#44700871)

Soon we will need some sort of artificial construct; a place where the brains can mingle so they dont collectively commit suicide, yah?

Come on Religious people (1, Funny)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#44701071)

Come on Religious people, start screaming and making laws against this.

Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44701465)

... a beowulf cluster of these

Potential (1)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#44702203)

There have been experiments with using a network of rat neurons in a substrate where the neurons were taught to recognize signal patterns and such.

While a pea-sized brain might not be able to "think", it *could* conceivably be far, far better at pattern recognition and learning than the rat experiments to date.

Of course there is the ethical issue of whether sufficiently advanced pattern recognition and learning capabilities constitute thought and therefore an individual, but somehow I don't think that's going to stop researchers from exploring the possibilities.

Or the NSA. Just think -- they could have double the brain power without having to support all those meat puppets that scan the data feeds. :P

Re:Potential (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44702263)

Or the NSA.

Edward Snowden in a fish tank. No risk of that hopping on plane to Hong Kong.

Or software coders. Link them right into the build environment. Developers, developers, developers in a jar.

Disgusting reprehensible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44702373)

This is disgusting and reprehensible.
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