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This Week's Government Cyborg Animal 202

Security writes "The BBC writes "The Pentagon's defence scientists want to create an army of cyber-insects that can be remotely controlled to check out explosives and send transmissions. The idea is to insert micro-systems at the pupa stage, when the insects can integrate them into their body, so they can be remotely controlled later. "."
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This Week's Government Cyborg Animal

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:05PM (#14930234)

    "Pentagon defence scientists want to create an army of cyber-insects that can be remotely controlled to check out explosives and send transmissions", what could go wrong ?

    • by Philip K Dickhead ( 906971 ) <folderol@fancypants.org> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:14PM (#14930283) Journal

      01 March 2006
      NewScientist.com news service
      Susan Brown
      IMAGINE getting inside the mind of a shark: swimming silently through the ocean, sensing faint electrical fields, homing in on the trace of a scent, and navigating through the featureless depths for hour after hour.

      We may soon be able to do just that via electrical probes in the shark's brain. Engineers funded by the US military have created a neural implant designed to enable a shark's brain signals to be manipulated remotely, controlling the animal's movements, and perhaps even decoding what it is feeling.

      That team is among a number of groups around the world that have gained ethical approval to develop implants that can monitor and influence the behaviour of animals, from sharks and tuna to rats and monkeys. These researchers hope such implants will improve our understanding of how the animals interact with their environment, as well as boosting research into tackling human paralysis.

      More controversially, the Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails. By remotely guiding the sharks' movements, they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies, perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted. The project, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), based in Arlington, Virginia, was presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, last week.

      Neural implants consist of a series of electrodes that are embedded into the animal's brain, which can then be used to stimulate various functional areas. Biologist Jelle Atema of Boston University and his students are using them to "steer" spiny dogfish in a tank via a phantom odour. As the dogfish swims about, the researchers beam a radio signal from a laptop to an antenna attached to the fish at one end and sticking up out of the water at the other. The electrodes then stimulate either the right or left of the olfactory centre, the area of the brain dedicated to smell. The fish flicks round to the corresponding side in response to the signal, as if it has caught a whiff of an interesting smell: the stronger the signal, the more sharply it turns.

      The team is not the first to attempt to control animals in this way. John Chapin of the State University of New York Health Science Center in Brooklyn has used a similar tactic to guide rats through rubble piles (New Scientist, 25 September 2004, p 21). Chapin's implant stimulates a part of the brain that is wired to their whiskers, so the rats instinctively turn toward the tickled side to see what has brushed by. Chapin rewards that response by stimulating a pleasure centre in the rats' brains. Using this reward process, he has trained the rodents to pause for 10 seconds when they smell a target chemical such as RDX, a component of plastic explosives.

      The New York Police Department is considering recruiting Chapin's rats to its disaster response team, where they could be used to detect bombs or even trapped people, and Chapin met them to discuss the possibility last month.

      However, Chapin's "mind patch" only works in one direction: he can stimulate movement or reward an action, but he cannot directly measure what the rat smells, which is why he has to train them to reveal what they are sensing. DARPA's shark researchers, in contrast, want to use their implant to detect and decipher the different patterns of neural activity that indicate the animal has detected an ocean current, a scent or an electrical field. The implant sports a small pincushion of wires that sink into the brain to record activity from many neurons at once. The team plans to program a microprocessor to recognise which patterns of brain activity correlate with which scents.

      Atema plans to use the implants to study how sharks track chemical trails. We know that sharks have an extremely acute sense of smell, but exactly how the animals deploy that sense in the wild has so far been a matter of co
      • Ethical Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lky1337 ( 959705 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:35PM (#14930361)
        The Ethical Implications of this plan are just sickeing. We all know it will only be a few years (decades?) before this technology is advanced enough to control every movement that an infected animal makes. Why spend billions of dollars to develope an ASIMO type stand-alone robot for physical labor when you can just jamb $200 neurocontroller into the brain of a fetal monkey and have a basicaly free slave creature? And don't even get me started on the privacy ramificiations. We need to get some international laws established to govern the abuse of tehnologys like this. Training dolphins and dogs for warefare is one thing, but forcing them to act with microchips inside thier brains is another entirely.
        • by SlimFastForYou ( 578183 ) <konsolemanNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:20AM (#14930779) Journal
          Are you kidding?

          I'd get a cyborg monkey. If my parents ever complained that my basement was getting too messy all I'd have to do is add a cronjob.

          I for one welcome our new Linux-running cyborg monkeys.
        • The Ethical Implications of this plan are just sickeing. We all know it will only be a few years (decades?) before this technology is advanced enough to control every movement that an infected animal makes. Why spend billions of dollars to develope an ASIMO type stand-alone robot for physical labor when you can just jamb $200 neurocontroller into the brain of a fetal monkey and have a basicaly free slave creature?

          So? They are non-sentient creatures. Furthermore, we are talking about non-sentient cyborged

          • by Lky1337 ( 959705 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:41AM (#14930859)
            Im not just a bleeding heart here. I cant see being trapped in a body that you are not in control of, but can still feel, must be the punishment in some level of hell. Its calous to just write-off all the other critters on this planet just because thier not "sentient". Frankly, apes have advanced social dynamics, are tool-using, can learn to do sign-language, paint interperativly, ect. They're only a few evoloutionary steps behind us. If fact, the only thing that seperates them from us is... Wait for it.... ETHICS Im an Intellectual, and an Athiest, and I still know its wrong to light cats on fire and throw them into my history profs front lawn. If you disregard ethics, you disregard a great deal of what makes us human.
            • If fact, the only thing that seperates [apes] from us is... Wait for it.... ETHICS Im an Intellectual

              Priceless...

            • I cant see being trapped in a body that you are not in control of, but can still feel, must be the punishment in some level of hell.

              I can't make my body do a somersault. A saddled horse can neither kick off the rider nor spit our the reigns. An elephant will charge into battle solely because its guide controls him. A camel may die in the desert, because its rider made a mistake or "pushed the envelope" deliberately (see "Lawrence of Arabia" [imdb.com])...

              Humans have used animals in many aspects of life — inc

            • "If you disregard ethics, you disregard a great deal of what makes us human."

              Actually, the fact that we can disregard ethics (which is entirely a human conceived notion) is in fact what makes us human. Animals and insects are incapable of disregarding ethics since ethics don't apply to them. Like us, they can only be what they are.
          • Re:Ethical Questions (Score:4, Informative)

            by Gooba42 ( 603597 ) <gooba42@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:24AM (#14930990)
            Prior discussion was had on the vast difference between "sentience" and "sapience". These animals are sentient, they simply think differently from us and are thus not "sapient".

            They are aware and capable of feeling pain, distress and at least rudimentary emotions, the impact and value of which are immeasurable in humans who can tell us what they're thinking. How fair is it to impose these things on creatures who can feel but cannot express?
          • Re:Ethical Questions (Score:3, Informative)

            by Fred_A ( 10934 )

            So? They are non-sentient creatures.

            You keep using that word but I think it doesn't mean what you think it does...

            sentient adjective
            able to percieve or feel things

            (from The New Oxford Dictionary of English 1998)

            FYI, most of our planet's lifeforms are sentient. And apes are litterally cousins to us. Turining them into remote controlled zombies is pretty much the same as doing it to a member of a remote human tribe.

            Most vertabrates also have a good perception of their own body. Depriving them of it certain

          • I'm 'religious' as you say. I dont have a problem with the insects and the sharks since they basically just run on instinct.. one you get to the monkey it does seem pretty cruel, and even implausible that you'd be able to get control of their brain in a useful way. The sharks and insects have a lot simpler brains, just acting on impulses.

            "actual, solid, rational reasons" - can you give anyone solid rational reasons for things such as not breaking your face with a baseball bat for example? I'm thinking th
          • Bunch of pseudo-intellectional,
            ......no comment required......
            • It's called a typo. It isn't the end of the world. It's not a sign of the end times. It's just one of those everyday things that happens. And using one to take a cheap shot at someone is...well...just cheap.
        • by Gooba42 ( 603597 ) <gooba42@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:26AM (#14931000)
          More importantly and less obviously, what impact does it have on the world when no creature is allowed to cross a border or simply exist in their native environment without being considered a security threat?

          Fishing for food is already measurably damaging our environment. What happens when we start fishing for defense? When migratory birds are shot down on sight? When the salmon spawning cycle is a security risk?
          • Funny you should mention birds.

            I was watching a program not that long ago about the use of carrier pigeons in World War II, as a communication method for spies. Both the Germans and the British made use of them, and at one point the British -- attempting to reduce the loss rate due to native predatory birds -- put a bounty on hawks and other birds of prey on the Southern coast of England. The Germans went the other way, and supposedly investigated using falcons to intercept and kill pigeons in occupied Fran
      • by cyberwench ( 10225 ) <tunalei@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:37PM (#14930369)
        That team is among a number of groups around the world that have gained ethical approval to develop implants that can monitor and influence the behaviour of animals, from sharks and tuna to rats and monkeys.

        Um... from whom, exactly? I'm pretty hesitant about it, and I can't imagine most ethics committees green-lighting anything of the sort.
        • Most probably, the same ethics committee that cleared the use of torture in Guantanamo base.

          Sadly, I don't expect much ethics from these guys.

          And yes, this is sickening.
        • Um... from whom, exactly? I'm pretty hesitant about it, and I can't imagine most ethics committees green-lighting anything of the sort.

          That's quite simple. All one needs is an UNethical ethics committee!

          In the recent past, I attended "ethics training" where I worked. The presentation stressed the importance of logging an accurate number of hours for each job/task performed. It cautioned us against unethical behavior such as cooking the numbers slightly or playing with hours worked (such as working 48 hrs o
    • RAID - the new debugger!
    • Gentlemen, we have a bug gap!

      We're over the rainbow on this one!
  • Right... (Score:4, Funny)

    by titla1k ( 875330 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:05PM (#14930236)
    I think someone at the Pentagon has been watching too many episodes of Lost...
    • Re:Right... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:29PM (#14930345)
      I once got to listen to a scientist who studies insect biomechanics talk about his dealings with some of the Pentagon types. Apparently these guys had just seen "The Fifth Element", which featured a remote-controlled cockroach with a video camera installed, and they said that this was what they wanted. And he asked them, "What, so you want a machine with similar capabilities?" and they said no: they wanted a remote-controlled cockroach with audio and video feed.

      The moral of the story being, the guys who run these programs are not necessarily all that bright, nor do they have that much background in science and engineering. Sometimes they don't even seem able to tell the difference between Hollywood and real engineering. What they do have is millions and millions of dollars to throw at any fantasy you can pitch them. Not that this is really news, if you've paid attention to the development of Star Wars and it's slightly less impossible successor, National Missile Defense.

      • Re:Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Descalzo ( 898339 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:54PM (#14930424) Journal
        I don't think that's really fair. People don't need to know what's possible to know what they want, or to know what they need. How many inventions came about because someone wanted something they couldn't have? If the military wants something they can't have, they will get something closer to it that what they already have, and it will probably push the envelope of what's possible.

        If the military wants an R/C cockroach with audio/video feed, they probably can't have it. But I'll bet they get close enough to push the technological envelope, and get them maybe the smallest camera and microphone ever.

        Because someone wants something that doesn't exist doesn't make them dumb. It might make them unrealistic.

        • Re:Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BewireNomali ( 618969 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:20AM (#14930504)
          i agree with you. in fact, it's a benefit that these people don't know science. Knowledgeable people often think first of the limitations - hindrances, impracticalities, etc to the reality of something. Because these non-science people don't know and are ignorant, it frees them from such limitations - in a sense allowing their imagination to run a bit more freely.

          I can't recall - but someone did a study recently about how creative thinking decreased markedly with every year of post secondary education or something like that. My nephew just turned 10. His dad isn't around so I try (poorly) to serve as some form of role model. I've noticed, with some melancholy, that he's less whimsical and prone to fancy as he learns more and becomes more task oriented. It suddenly dawned on me that the school system is designed to squash imagination and producer worker drones. But I digress.

          It's no one's fault for thinking up outlandish things - engineers should just incorporate the free-thinking meme a bit more and make these guys obsolete. That way - you'll have smart money chasing high yield ideas.

        • And if a wasp can control a cockroack [corante.com], why not humans?

          The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp's burrow.
      • While its true that they might not be realistic, let's not forget that scientists have to learn how to pitch intellectual ideas to them in a way that always promises an end product that they can add to their arsenal and advertise in recruiting commercials.
      • All 3 of the specific things you mentioned do sound possible..... eventually ;) It's the eventually part that's the clincher. And the people who run these things seem to think they have enough money to make that eventually come around sometime soon. Sometimes they're right, although by the sound of it most of the time, they're wrong.
        • I just noticed your sig again, and while it's OT I just can't help feel that you're not a programmer =p maybe you are and just dont have much faith in younger geeks, who actually have more free time and enthusiasm for coding IMO (well I used to have more time and enthusiasm)
      • http://www.wireheading.com/roboroach/index.html [wireheading.com] Notice the date (2001), so why again are r.c. cockroaches with audio/video feeds such a stupid idea? /would think the most difficult part would be the audio/video feed
    • Bat Bombs! (Score:5, Informative)

      by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:07AM (#14930710)
      ...Or not studying the history books enough. The US Armed forces have an unfortunate history with animals doing the dirty work, at least with bats carrying incendiary bombs during WWII [defensetech.org].

      Supposedly during one of the tests, someone got the bright idea to take a picture of the sleeping bats before carting them out to the test area (asleep and equipped with their little napalm canisters.) They all woke up with the flash. And, as they say, Hilarity Ensued.

      We (humans) have never had good luck at this sort of thing. The Russians tried it with dogs carrying satchel charges; they trained the dogs by feeding them underneath tanks. Well, the only problem was that they used Russian tanks to train 'em, not German tanks...and apparently dogs are very good at distinguishing between Russian and German tanks.

      And again, Hilarity Ensued.

      • The US Armed forces have an unfortunate history with animals doing the dirty work, at least with bats carrying incendiary bombs during WWII.

        Don't forget the pigeon-guided missile [wikipedia.org], which was planned by B.F. Skinner during WWII. Wikipedia actually has a nice article on the use of military animals [wikipedia.org] throughout history. The description of Project Pigeon from wikipedia:

        During World War II, Project Pigeon (or Project Orcon, for "organic control") was American behaviourist B. F. Skinner's attempt to develop a pigeon
      • Actually, this may be more of a myth than anything, but there are film reels of soviets training dogs for the action.

        Apparently, the Germans got wind of it before this was put into practice and Panzer crews killed anything that looked like a dog on contact. There was also the problem that the Germans used gasoline for their tanks and the Soviets used disel which produces slightly different smells so the dogs weren't that effective on own because they were trained on soviet tanks.
  • by those.numbers ( 960432 ) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:06PM (#14930237)
    I think everyone involved in cutting-edge military projects should be required to read a science-contract-gone-wrong fiction book their projects. The moment I read "army of cyber-insects" I thought of Michael Crichton's book, "Prey".

    I mean, when does cyborg insects become a good plan for a means of communication? They've already developed a defense for that: A can of Raid.
    • by yog ( 19073 ) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:31PM (#14930350) Homepage Journal
      Well when you shoot enough arrows, one of them is bound to hit a target. Or put another way, fund 10,000 wacky ideas and you'll get maybe one good product out of it. The internet is one such product of a DARPA project so it's probably not a bad approach.

      What I don't understand is why this would be in the international wire reports. What happened to secrecy. If they let the entire world know that these things are being developed, the targets (e.g., Iraqi insurgents) will outfit themselves with cans of insect repellent or maybe just spray paint or hair spray, anything that will disrupt or kill the insects. A group of insurgents sitting around in a room are going to notice a butterfly; it's fairly slow moving and obvious.

      Now, what would be really cool is if they developed some sort of super killer bees that have a really deadly neural toxin instead of the usual venom. One of those babies pricks you and you're dead within seconds. The bees would act like normal insects until the operator sends it a certain signal which activates some neurological pathway to sting anything that moves. This pathway would of course be based on studying the killer bees from S. America. Then release a few million of them, wait until they're near some baddies, and zap!

      Of course, if these things could breed, the entire world would be in trouble. But that's never stopped those guys before!
      • What I don't understand is why this would be in the international wire reports. What happened to secrecy.

        Sometimes the best weapon is the weapon that the bad guys *think* you have. If people start to believe they can be killed at any time or any place it can tend to make people want to give the bad guy game up.
        The same principle is true, tell them there are 10 000 wacky ways that we can come and get them. They might not believe any of them, but you can bet they'll look twice next time a bug flies in th
        • Or it could be that this is actually yesterday's technology, and that they've discovered something even better, so they're willing to let all the social benefits be had from this technology.
      • DARPA funds tons of unclassified research. Why would they classify something like this, only to not classify the research funding given to hundreds of professors and graduate students (including me).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read on the CBC today that some entymologists don't think this project will work due to the size of electronics [www.cbc.ca]. Perhaps that is the case today, but they may just get there with more advances in microelectronics.

    Westblogs [westblogs.com]
  • Animals in combat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:08PM (#14930250)
    Anyone catch this in the sidebar?

    Dolphins trained to tear off diving gear of Vietcong divers and drag them to interrogation. Later, syringes placed on dolphin flippers to inject carbon dioxide into divers, who explode. About 40 divers thought to have been killed

    Sounds like an idea that could be incorporated into Grand Theft Auto's next version.
    • Take a really intelligent species that by all rights should be really pissed off with us and teach them how to kill us. I'll be the first to say "I told you so" if there's ever an uprising of mechanized land-walking dolphins...
    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )
      Dolphins trained to tear off diving gear of Vietcong divers and drag them to interrogation. Later, syringes placed on dolphin flippers to inject carbon dioxide into divers, who explode. About 40 divers thought to have been killed

      I wonder what's the BBC's source for those stories. I've heard the story about tearing off the diving gear before, but it's generally regarded as an urban legend -- after all, it would be pretty difficult to keep the hypothetical killer dolphins from attacking divers on your side.

      Al
  • Does this story bug anyone else? Is that my karma I smell burning?
  • Audio & Video? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nqdiddles ( 805995 )
    From TFA:
    The "insect-cyborg" must also "be able to transmit data from relevant sensors, yielding information about the local environment. These sensors can include gas sensors, microphones, video, etc." (emphasis added)
    Right. I'm off to flyscreen my entire yard. And stock up on Mortein. Given the current trends (at least in the U.S), carrying insect repellant could soon be considered a suspicious act...
  • wait a minute.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @11:28PM (#14930342) Journal
    .. I saw that x-files episode ...LOL..

    No joke there was an episode about something like that. Really weird, only I think it involved the tabacco industry....

  • Think of the possibilities. Surveilance, stealthy assasination, infiltrating the most secure locations are just the beginning.

    Enough of them could drug entire populations with psychotropic meds at election time. It boggles my mind.
  • Skeeter squad (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm surprised they aren't trying to use them to deploy bioweapons. Lethal ones may be illegal but there are other alternatives. A bad case of the flu could turn a battle. They could be rigged to self destruct after they fed so they wouldn't spread the desease. Ironically bird flu in it's current form would be a good weapon since it doesn't spread through the air. The downside being the more people that contract it the more likely an air spread human variant would evolve. Hey no weapon is perfect.
  • I mean, obviously. Look at the Predacons. They're mostly insects and arachnids and stuff (the Ant, and the 2 spiders and the scorpion). Do you want your creations to turn evil and try to destroy the world? No, if you are doing cyborg/whatever animals, you need to do mammals, like the Maximals. Of course, it might be kind of awkward if a giant robo-gorilla came over to sniff me for bombs...
  • A former director said in 1975: "When we fail, we fail big."

    So insects were the natural choice!
  • but heres just a few:

    I wish i could be a fly on your wall [authorsden.com]

    to voice of General Disarray : X-Files did it!! [redwolf.com.au]

    And i for one welcome our old news disguised as new [bbc.co.uk]
  • The Zerg? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jace78 ( 786116 )
    "Larva are spawned by Zerg Hives and carry within them the entire Zerg genetic code. At a command of the Overmind, they may pupate into an egg stage, and then transform themselves into any Zerg breed as along as the local conditions are right (there are adequate resources to nourish the pupating larva, etc.). By themselves, Larva show little intelligence and no free will..." Perfect cronyism.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So computerised military hardware mustn't have had enough bugs in it.
  • In other news, bee stings up 50% in certain areas of Iraq, bug spray sales skyrocket.

    Now, is it just me, or does it seem that the military is taking this whole "surveillance" thing just a bit too far. Implanting bugs with microchips, cameras, microphones... I mean come on. Just put the damn things on a little R.C. helicopter and use that.
  • They should focus on Raid immunity for those insects first.
  • by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:15AM (#14930489)
    *grainy, generic march music begins to play*
    *A title appears: 'America on the March!'"
    *The music tones down as a narrator speaks, as if from a tin can and the screen fades from black to black and white shots of marching soldiers seen from the knees down*

    "America's army is on the march! Fighting a seemingly unwinable, eternal war against The Terrorist!"

    *Scene shifts to a variety of different described settings, faded with the image of a stereotypical terrorist constant throught.*

    "But our enemies could lurk anywhere! In your homes, your gardens, your playgrounds, buisness and even your schools! You may never know your neighbor is a terrorist until... Bam!"

    *His words are accompanied by a cheese cartoon explosion and the letters 'BAM', scene opens to a nuclear family clutching each other in exgaggerated fear and surprise*

    "But never fear! Our great leader, President Bush is at the helm!"

    *Scene flips to shots of street riots and total chaos. An obvious mistake as the film interrupts with the message 'scene missing'*
    *The narrator, obviously recorded before the film had even began to be assembled, carries on.

    "And with him, some of the greatest scientific minds of our time are gathered, providing ever improving technologies to combat our invisible enemies. Here at the Pentagon, every day yeilds exciting new discoveries in the world of chemistics, internets, domestic spying, robotics, and cybornetics!"

    *The film hastly flips to shots of each of these things, trying to get back on track.*
    *Finally, the film settles back to normal speed and begins to move through the same shots as before the terrorised family was shown;now the dim outline of a superman-shaped soldier is present.*

    "Now we have the ability to make soldiers that can be found everywhere The Terrorists can be! Gardens, playgrounds, and schools! No, we're not talking about you, Timmy."

    *Stock footage is shown of a clearly disappointed 12 year old...who is looking down at his ice cream which has fallen from his cone to the sidewalk.*

    "Tomorrows soldier is in countless supply! The army ant! Thanks to modern cybernetics, mother nature her self is mobilizing against the unyeilding threat posed by global terrorism! The Ants are coming, and they are on America's side; there's no other side to be on! So remember those immortal words, as America is on the March:"

    *The Music begins to wrap up as the scene moves to a black and white photo of president Bush infront of an American flag.*
    *The Narration yeilds to an echoy snipit of the Presidents speech.*

    "If you do not stand by us, then your are with the Terrorists..."

    *Scene fades to an image of the spinning earth placed on the back drop of an overhead view of the skull-like Stealth Fighter.*
    *Music returns to full volume as it concludes.*
    *The lights flick out as the music ends...*
  • by wkitchen ( 581276 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:42AM (#14930594)
    The idea is to insert micro-systems at the pupa stage, when the insects can integrate them into their body, so they can be remotely controlled later.
    It's like religion for bugs. Implant 'em while they're young so you can control 'em later.
  • "WWII: Attach a bomb to a cat and drop it from a dive-bomber on to Nazi ships. The cat, hating water, will "wrangle" itself on to enemy ship's deck. In tests cats became unconscious in mid-air"

    Then look at that smug feline in the photo next to the article. =)
  • Stop blowing our tax dollars on this crap and develop something useful, like an army of trained monkey butlers (with cute little hats).
  • My sharks with lasers beams will make mincemeat of your beetles with sub-machine guns!!!
  • Paul Bunyan (Score:3, Funny)

    by ELProphet ( 909179 ) <davidsouther@gmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @03:31AM (#14931192) Homepage
    This reminds me of a Paul Bunyan story I heard once...

    SO, Paul and the guys were logging in the Wisconsin area, when all of a sudden, the entire horizon fills with dark, ominous clouds. Well, not to be pushed around by some rain or maybe a little hail, the guys keep on working. But as the cloud comes closer, they start hearing these strange buzzing sounds. Finally, they realize that it is indeed not a storm, but a huge cloud of Giant Mosquitoes!

    Well, the guys haul but into the tin huts, but the giant mosquitoes start punching holes in the roof with their stingers! Paul, always being a quick thinker, grabs a hammer and starts pounding on the mosquito stingers, and they get flattened to the roof. Now, some of the mosquitoes couldn't get in or out, and the rest called it quits.

    Now, Paul knew that the mosquitoes would probably be back, so he sent young Tom down the river to St. Louis to bring back some of them Guard Bees he had heard about. Tom gets back a couple of weeks later, and the bees proceed to fly patrol around the camp.

    That was all fine great and dandy, until the Mosquitoes actually came back. See, the mosquitoes and the bees liked each other so much, they flew off and got married. Sure enough, their bee-squitoe kids came back a couple of weeks later with stingers on BOTH ends!

    In the end, their craving for sweets caused them to swarm a fleet of ships which were bringing molasses to Paul's lumbercamp. They ate so much molasses that they could no longer fly and soon they were all drowned. Paul saved two of the mosquitoes which he later used for drilling holes in maple trees.
  • "We've been fighting a losing battle against the insects for fifteen years, but I never thought I'd see the final face-off in my lifetime. And I never dreamed, that it would turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friend."
  • Sheesh and everyone here cheered the Darpa Grand Challenge.
  • ... will keep us from pumping DARPA funds into creating Spiderman.

    But WAIT! Nobody ever said anything about arachnid-human hybrids!

    I'll bet that deep in the underground bunkers beneath the White House, thousands of abducted homeless are being subjected to radioactive spiders' bites.

    But it certainly seems that the ManBat is outa the running ...
  • Low-calorie content (Score:2, Informative)

    by Peter Mork ( 951443 )

    Articles about science (-fiction?) need to be covered by journalists that understand the meaning of various words. Take, for example, the following quote from TFA:

    "Darpa believes scientists can take advantage of the evolution of insects, such as dragonflies and moths, in the pupa stage."

    Methinks the author has conflated evolution with development.

  • Do android sheep dream of electronics?
  • I can see the headline now.

    "Disaster strikes at Los Alamos when cybernetically enhanced insects designed for tactical germ warfare escape captivity; hundreds reported dead and critically injured."

    Before I go on, I'd just like to say that DARPA has some really sick, sadistic fucks in its ranks. I don't care just how many of their inventions have made the trek from tactical to practical. Nothing DARPA has ever made was made without the idea of killing someone in mind, and these cyberslave insects are no excep
    • Nothing DARPA has ever made was made without the idea of killing someone in mind
      I know, it's really weird that a military research agency would be interested in inventing things that kill people.
  • In WWII, they experimented with cats: "Attach a bomb to a cat and drop it from a dive-bomber on to Nazi ships". That's good enough to be a Monty Python skit.

    Although it would be one way to appropriately confuse the cat.

  • It could be useful. I.E. development of interfaces between biological materials (insect eyes and the like) and electronics. I don't think the particular incarnation that they are talking about (nobody suspects the butterfly, but seriously). This direction of research could be particularly useful in the development of implants.
  • This sounds great as long as we're not creating military human animal hybrids... ya know, like Cobra Commander. George Bush is against that stuff.

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