Like…they are literally creating “Pinky And The Brain”…or at least the “Brain” part!
The medical magazine Stat reports that what are essentially “tiny human brains,” organoids, have been implanted into the brains of the rats—which is now sparking an ethical debate. Literally: could the rats have increased intelligence (and/or other unforeseen consequences) as the result of the implants?
Organoids are small lumps of cells grown from human stem cells, and behave similarly to human neurons. Implanted within the rodent, the organoid’s neurons send signals to the rat brain. This means that these rats could have, in a very real sense, “hybrid” rat/human brain activity.
Though these experiments are being done to further research into medical conditions like Alzheimer’s and autism…this certainly opens the door to a LOT of other stuff.
Experts doubt that the critters will develop any sort of significant human-type intellect, but bioethicists admit that this is still a murky situation:
“These little suckers are not going to say ‘Hi,’” said legal scholar and bioethicist Hank Greely of Stanford University. But the rapid advances, he said, are raising the question “of whether you are creating something human-ish that you have to take seriously in terms of according it dignity and respect — and figuring out what that even means.”
In another recent science news item, a perfectly preserved 50,000 year old lion cub has had some researchers speculating if they can create a “real-life Jurassic Park.” Well…as I’ve written before, it’s not quite that simple. And the researchers of course know more than anyone that it is not quite so simple.
But it’s my prediction that this will all go forward…the cloning of extinct animals, melding human and animal tissue, and much more. And I’m not “against” it.
I’m just saying…it’s not quite so simple.