Are Cyborg Cockroach Kits Ethical?

news-roboroachI can’t say this seems any less or more ethical than smacking the bejeezus out of the things with shoes or spraying them with chemicals…

Via Wired:

RoboRoach #12 and its brethren are billed as a do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own “cyborg” insects. The roach was the main feature of the TEDx talk by Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo, co-founders of an educational company called Backyard Brains. After a summer Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to let them hone their insect creation, the pair used the Detroit presentation to show it off and announce that starting in November, the company will, for $99, begin shipping live cockroaches across the nation, accompanied by a microelectronic hardware and surgical kits geared toward students as young as 10 years old.

That news, however, hasn’t been greeted warmly by everyone. Gage and Marzullo, both trained as neuroscientists and engineers, say that the purpose of the project is to spur a “neuro-revolution” by inspiring more kids to join the fields when they grow up, but some critics say the project is sending the wrong message. “They encourage amateurs to operate invasively on living organisms” and “encourage thinking of complex living organisms as mere machines or tools,” says Michael Allen Fox, a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

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  • Calypso_1

    Yes. Especially if they have self-destruct mechanisms.

  • Conspiracy Carrot

    What a horrible pest those things are. Humans, I mean.

  • BuzzCoastin

    the project is sending the wrong message. “They encourage amateurs to operate invasively on living organisms”

    yeah, only professionals should do that
    I wonder how these kids got those goofy notions

  • InfvoCuernos

    I don’t see a problem, as long as there’s nothing toxic in the kit that might make the kids sick after they eat the roaches. But seriously, is it a good idea to ship cockroaches in the mail? I assume every place in the US has roaches, but this seems a little bit like inviting disaster(and if everywhere is already infested, why don’t you just get your own local roach?).

    • InfvoCuernos

      I wonder if you can use other insects, like praying mantises or scorpions(I know they aren’t insects but still)? That would make this gizmo really entertaining-and probably more unethical- just imagine the battles you and your buddies could stage. What the hell are you going to do with a cockroach? Spread some nasty disease? Stick these things on a couple of tarantulas and get em to fight it out!

  • weirdo hippie

    Is it “ok” because they are cockroaches? What if I sold a “minimally-invasive, minor pain” inducing.kit for dogs cars or children? Is that less ok? Why?

    • InfvoCuernos

      I would totally buy one for my car!(j/k I know that was a typo that you probably meant to say cat-and yes, I would buy one if it controlled cats-that shit would be so much more funny than tinfoiling the cat’s paws).

  • weirdo hippie

    Is it ok because they are cockroaches? Or what if one was for pets and children? Why would that be less ok?

  • Hoarfraust

    Sick sick frankenstein sociopaths.

  • Iuwus

    its not the individual insect i think that needs to be worried about… it’s the risk of angering the vast overmind of which the individual insect is an extension of.

    • Calypso_1

      What makes you think the overmind doesn’t see this as Stage I of a two-way street?
      ; )

      • Iuwus

        pure mindfuck.

        • Calypso_1

          Mission accomplished.

          Don’t know how these guys are in the UK but deep in the Whore Heart O’Dixie they get 2-3 inches and fly. You should see when hundreds come running down an old oak tree at dusk.
          I have yet to find an ally of these critters. I finally made friends with camel crickets & they don’t like then either.

          I’ve got an excellent salamander population which keeps down the young roaches & tons of wasp friends (though this summer the yellow garden spiders decided to surround the wasps nests w/ egg cases). There is just nothing that predates them in an interior environment. Will soon be looking into entomopathogenic fungi.

          • Iuwus

            oh so I’m guessing you have a whole setup for all those guys? hence the need for the fungi?

            i don’t see too many cockroaches around here, but i imagine the tree sight is pretty glorious. i have an insect construct in my mental menagerie which i think i’ve mentioned specifically can’t label it one species or another. a hard carapace similar roach or woodlouse, access to a vast intelligence and a refined predatorial instinct. plus i was on drugs when it happened so fuck knows really.

            i made a yu-gi-oh deck based completely around insect cards and played a game right before the event. and then insects just seemed to be constantly on me – in my eyes, on my legs etc. i don’t know man i don’t plan this shit.

          • Calypso_1

            Set up? not really. I just don’t use pesticides, cultivate plants & observe symbiotic relationships between plants & beneficial insects along with the predators of harmful ones. I use hormonal traps for invasive beetles but that is all.
            I found that red paper wasps though extremely aggressive towards interlopers could essentially be tamed by proper association – they have the ability to recognize individual faces. The red paper wasps were superior as noxious insect predators to brown wasps which they fight for territory with so I selectively culled brown wasp nests during dormant season.
            The garden spider is even better than the wasps with many plant pests & its taken me several years to get a large population. The salamanders I just help out when they are young and move them near moist composting areas where there is bird netting so they can survive.
            As to the roaches they are endemic to the region. If you are sanitary they rarely come inside unless its been raining for a couple of days.

          • Iuwus

            it sounds fun watching and guiding an ecosystem like that. i definitely enjoy watching how the rats organise themselves. i like to speculate on where their future evolution takes them, how our interactions with them would snowball into their future culture. like for instance, the way nests are constructed and the biological compulsion to have their side against something (i forget the technical term) would shape future architecture. also having such a long period in their evolution with males and females separated most of their lives with such drastically altered breeding patterns. and the sacred nature of ‘the stash’, an expression of the maturing ego conciousness? i suppose mice are the parallel of roaches here and have a similar behaviour – due to their nervousness of open spaces you can affirm territory by keeping your area tidy. i learned this the hard way – at one time our collection of discarded pizza boxes grew to such heights they were serving as tower blocks for the mice lol. one even had a litter inside our bin. i love watching rodent litters at “emergence day”, when all the babies swarm hopping and bounding out all at once, it’s quite surprising. eventually we got sick of the noise when we were trying to sleep (when mice go to war they don’t shit around) and had to demolish the pizza box housing.

  • ManwithnoCountry

    The roaches are taking over.

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