Friday, May 30, 2008

Robot Monkey Arms

On the way back to work from lunch on Friday’s, I usually listen to ‘Science Friday’ on the local NPR station. They almost always have something that my trivia & useless knowledge hungry brain finds interesting. Today proved to be no exception, for the topic was something about implanting electrodes into the brains of monkeys & training them to use the connection to control a robotic arm, in hopes of one day applying the technology to human quadriplegics & amputees. This was all terribly fascinating, as it usually is.

Unfortunately, though, they let people call in & ask questions. Sometimes, the questions are well thought out, insightful & help to move the topic along. Usually, though, the callers are retards who don’t understand the idea of ‘staying on topic’, ie, the nimrod who called in &, instead of asking something like, oh, “Can the monkeys open bananas with their bionic appendages?”, went on about the degradation of some natural watershed somewhere in New England. (Thankfully, the host got the show back on topic by hanging up on the guy.)

One that actually gave me a giggle, though, was a guy who called up & apparently gave the screener one question that he wanted to ask in order to get on &, instead, asked about the ramifications of outfitting monkeys with robotic arms & the potential for conquest by simian cyborgs in retaliation for all the things we’ve done to them like medical testing, making them wear diapers in public & teaching them how to smoke (lung cancer is the #3 cause of death in chimpanzees, following being eaten by tigers & unicycle accidents). The host & guest kind of laughed it off, but you could hear the concern in their chuckling, as they imagined a world dominated by Coco & Mr. Bubbles.

It could happen, people! Monkeys with robot arms! Haven’t you seen ‘Planet of the Apes’?

Anyway, the last call that I heard was from a representative from the land of the tiny brained people, who asked if there has been any study, whilst attaching robot arm controlling electrodes to their heads, into whether or not monkeys have a conscience. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear the guest’s reply, but, if you’ll allow me, I think I can hazard an answer:


Monkeys don’t have consciences. The only thoughts going on in their tiny little skulls are “Ook, ook”, “Banana” & “I wonder how far I can fling my poo with this thing?”

There you have it. Any other deep, philosophical or ethical questions you need answered, Nature Boy? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Anyway – Robot Monkey Arms!


Note: Evil red eyes added for effect; our monkey rulers may or may not have red eyes. I mean, yeah, they'll still be evil & all, but...