When Is a Robot Not Mechanical? When It's an Android

Made of silicone and rat heart cells, the Medusoid engineered jellyfish's muscles contract like a real jellyfish when placed in liquid and shocked.   (Source: California Institute of Technology/Harvard University)
Made of silicone and rat heart cells, the Medusoid engineered jellyfish's muscles contract like a real jellyfish when placed in liquid and shocked.
(Source: California Institute of Technology/Harvard University)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Ann R. Thryft   9/10/2012 1:04:40 PM
Lipstick on a rat?? Hadn't heard of that one. I agree, Jenn, it's getting creepy when we start combining engineered living tissue with machines. But also fascinating. I think that uncanny valley may be expanding into more of a continent at this point.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Jennifer Campbell   9/10/2012 12:49:55 PM
Although they are bred for lab experiments, I never really thought of it going much further than rats more than getting injected with drugs that are undergoing testing, or having makeup put on them (wink).

Seriously, though, putting living tissue into robots is a tad bit creepy. More and more, after reading your posts, Ann, am I beginning to understand the term uncanny valley and why it's real.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: but, do they sting?
Ann R. Thryft   9/10/2012 12:39:24 PM
Lou, I think it's unfortunate that the term "android" has been co-opted by a commercial enterprise, and not very accurately, either. Regarding the Medusoid, I agree about the control system--I'm really curious to know what they have in mind. This isn't quite a robot yet, or an android, but with the correct control system, it could be.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Ann R. Thryft   9/10/2012 12:34:36 PM
Beth, rats are definitely one of, if not the, most common animals used in lab experiments. They are bred specifically for this purpose. And incorporating living bioengineered tissue into robots appears to be a trend. I'll be posting on this subject again soon.

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but, do they sting?
naperlou   9/10/2012 11:47:24 AM
Ann, this is a very interesting avenue of research.  From the title, of course, I thought you were talking about a cell phone. 

But, seriously, do we need more jellyfish?  I remember being stung by them in the Chesepeake when I was joung.  Not fun.  These will not have stingers, will they?  Just kidding.

It would be interesting to see what type of control system the researchers come up with.  These could be efficient little swimmers for long distance surveillance, for example.

Beth Stackpole
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Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Beth Stackpole   9/10/2012 7:29:19 AM
Seems like there is some great research potential at the heart of this project. Rat heart muscle cells--curious about that one. Anything about the rat heart muscle that lends itself to this or is it more that rats are the go-to source for research?

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