It's finally happened, the mind of a living organism has been put into the body of a man-made robot. Specifically a Lego robot has been made that now thinks like a worm.
The OpenWorm project has mapped connections between a worm's 302 neurons and simulated them in a software form. The ultimate goal is to simulate the creature as a totally virtual organism. At this stage they've put the neural network into a Lego robot.
One day, perhaps, the human brain will be able to be mapped in this way to, potentially, transfer ourselves to a virtual world or a machine body. Ultimately these guys are working towards immortality.
The worm's body parts have been created in a robot equivalent, with a sonar sensor replacing its nose and motor neurons running down the sides for movement. The result is a robot that responds to external stimuli as the worm would. So stimulation of the nose stopped forward movement while stimulating the food sensor made it move forward.
No instructions were programmed into the robot, it simply ran as the worm's hardwired brain would react.
So what's the next step? Human brains being saved onto computers? Then you start to get into philosophical issues of the soul. And the computing power necessary is still a long way off. But it's an exciting step in the direction of potential immortality.
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