Hear out, world. The nervous system of a tiny worm has been transplanted into the body of a robot. Perhaps, it is only a matter of time that robots and artificial intelligence overtake our human population? Though the project might sound like science-fiction, the firm behind it, OpenWorm, intends to create the first ever virtual organism in a computer in order to understand the human brain.
To achieve this aim, the scientists of OpenWorm have mapped the 302 neurones located under the skin of a one millimeter-long worm with transparent skin known as Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). OpenWorm states that to graps how the human brain works, one must first be able to understand a simple worm.
A sonar sensor on the robot has been made to imitate the worm’s nose. If the robot is found within a distance of 20cm of an object, the sensory neurones will be activated. Stimulating its nose triggered it to stop moving. Touching a food sensor, however, made it proceed forward. In this way, the robot is a good simulation of the C. elegans.
One of the authors said:
“What we found is that rather than just random, crazy movements by the robot, it actually responded to its environment in the same manner as the biological worm.”
It is to be borne in mind that the robot’s responses are not the result of programming or learning. Rather, the worm’s nervous system was mapped and ‘superimposed’ as a software onto the robot.