Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
Biotech Robotics Science Technology

Researchers Engineer Light-Activated Skeletal Muscle 20

submeta writes "Researchers at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania have genetically engineered skeletal muscle cells to respond to light. The hope is that this 'bio-integrated' approach may lead to 'highly articulated, flexible robots.' The technique, known as optogenetics, has previously been used to stimulate neurons in worms to fire."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Researchers Engineer Light-Activated Skeletal Muscle

Comments Filter:
  • His bulbs are too bright, it's not fair.
  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:45AM (#41212639)
    Super Photosensitive Epileptic Robots GO!
  • I guess you'd be in some kind of rigor mortis at the beach.
  • We will probably make these robots work harder than we work natural animals.We will probably work some until they break, until the animal tissue dies, because we can "just replace it".

    How much of the robot has to be animal before working it that hard is cruelty to the animal? How much robot until it's not an animal with a prosthetic, but flips to a robot with tissue?

    Or are all hybrids subject to the compassion we have for animals?

    What about when it's human tissue?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How much of the robot has to be animal before working it that hard is cruelty to the animal?

      This has a very little to do with the tissue and more to do with the rewarding system. Cutting in flesh is not considered to be wrong unless the flesh is connected to a functional brain. If you want to read something that explores this in more depth the you can probably find something from Asimov. The first season of the anime Gunslinger Girl also deals with this a bit.

      TL;DR; It is not cruel to let a robot work until it wears out or breaks, biological or not. It is however cruel to program said robot to fee

      • "Is not considered to be wrong"? Perhaps by you Anonymous Coward. The issue of live, even autonomous, animal tissue without animal nerves is pretty new, and far from settled. Asimov's half-century old work, from before anyone had any actual experience with any of these innovations, and a cartoon, aren't the final words on the matter.

        The point is that the boundaries of "robot" are now fuzzy, and categorical statements like "biological or not" are invalid.

        BTW, your post was 111 words while mine was only 86. "

      • TL;DR; It is not cruel to let a robot work until it wears out or breaks, biological or not. It is however cruel to program said robot to feel pain when it wears out/breaks and then force it to do so.

        I suppose it depends on how you define 'cruel'. In a strict sense, engineering humans or other sentient beings to delight in sacrificing themselves for your pleasure* would not be 'cruel', because you are not causing physical pain or suffering. But I believe most would consider such a thing to be deplorable and the product of a cruel and sociopathic mind.

        * as Douglas Adams so aptly depicted

  • May be the only way to try to take away their power source as they become too strong and try to take us over. I say do it. At least they would find no value in turning us into their power source.
  • by symes ( 835608 ) on Monday September 03, 2012 @10:15AM (#41212821) Journal

    My issue with bio-inspired designs like this is that are are surely susceptible to the same vulnerabilities as humans. One of the benefits of robots is that they can be sent to places humans would not otherwise go, such as deep space, extremes in temperature, and so on. What is the point? Why do we need a copy of a human, other than the obvious cool insights such research provides of course.

    • We haven't nanomachines yet that can do for robots what organic tissue can do for humans: Heal. A robot with a damaged servo needs a replacement. We either build the robot with lots of redundancy (have a colony of robots) and get them to fix themselves from scraps, manufacture themselves, or make them more independent -- just allow their injury to heal. Nature shows this is more advantageous when spare parts can not easily be acquired.

      How would you indicate to the robot that it shouldn't use the dama

      • Don't fear the Cyborgs. Natural selection teaches us there are higher rungs on the evolutionary ladder than ours, we have but to reach.

        Natural selection teaches us no such thing. There are no higher or lower rungs in evolution, there's just adaptability.

    • What is the point? Why do we need a copy of a human

      They aren't trying to duplicate humans. They are trying to distill and reproduce essential aspects of biomotion e.g. skeletal muscle contraction. TFA is about a way to control the twitching of skeletal muscles without requiring a biological nervous system.

  • It's amazing how hard scientists work to recreate apocalypse scenarios from fiction. In this case, Metal Gear Solid 4.
  • by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) on Monday September 03, 2012 @10:31AM (#41212917) Journal
    Forget about strobe lights disrupting a brain; these muscles have epilepsy built right into the tissue.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer