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Friday, December 09, 2005

Rat Brain Flies Plane

Well, almost... University of Floriday scientists have developed a neural network using rat brain cells and taught it how to fly a plane. Assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida, Dr Thomas DeMarse, used 25,000 neural cells from a rat embryo to grow a neural network he then connected to an F-22 flight simulator. Although it had a steep learning curve and tended to crash a lot, the bio-computer eventually got its wings.
“When we first hooked them up, the plane ‘crashed’ all the time,” Dr DeMarse. “But over time, the neural network slowly adapts as the brain learns to control the pitch and roll of the aircraft. After a while, it produces a nice straight and level trajectory.”
DeMarse hopes to build hybrid computers for work situations, like unmanned space probes, that will be more fault-tolerant than all-inorganic computers. I'm a little unsure about his "fault-tolerant" organic computer model. I don't see evidence of Mass Media Podpeople's and Loony Left Moonbats' brains developing alternate pathways as their brains waste away... and what of the typical congresscritter? Hmmm, they all seem to give lie to Jerry Pournelle's comment about how smart morons are... Wouldn't trust any of 'em to fly a plane (or even a simulator) I was in given their track record on other matters. I'd rather trust a rat's brain grown in a dish. h.t. Roland Dobbins commenting at Chaos Manor