Have micro-robots reached a stage where they can be inserted in the body and control the brain? Some might say yes after seeing the latest development by Chinese scientists at the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology. Researchers have created a micro-robot worm that is capable of entering the human body, adapting the environment of the body, move along blood vessels and even attaching itself to the neurons in the brain.
In recent years, science labs around the world have produced small micro-bots capable of performing some simple tasks, but this is the next step. Chinese scientists have been working on microscopic robotic worms that do not need batteries or microchips to perform their duties, but can operate by external magnetic field generators using artificial intelligence to travel independently in the human body.
A video from the team showed the robots performing a range of manoeuvres. Photo: Handout
According the research and presentations, the robotic worms can crawl, swing, roll, swim, twist their bodies in odd shapes, and fit through holes half the size of their body. The most facinating part of the robotic worms is that they are capable of changing their color to match their surroundings. According to one report, “The worm’s body is also capable of changing colour in different environments because it is made from a transparent, temperature-responsive hydrogel and the video shows that when added to a cup of water at room temperature they become almost invisible.”
Currently, brain implants can only be inserted via complicated and invasive surgical procedures and there is very limited integration with the neurons of the brain. However, with China’s robotic worm’s ability for computer-brain interface, a transmitter could be carried by the worm to convert external signals into an electric pulse and connect with brain cells to stimulate activities that are prompted externally.
When asked, Xu Tiantian, a lead scientist for the project at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, admitted that it is possible to ‘misuse the technology by turning it into a weapon’ of mind control. There would be several obstacles to overcome to make it an effective tool to control a person’s brain, but improving the hardware may overcome these obstacles – Xu could not rule out the possibility that the technology could be weaponised one day.
“We just hope that day will never come,” Xu said.
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