'Robot pigeon' homes in on mind control

Scientists have successfully taken control of a bird's flight by implanting electrodes in its brain. They were able to use radio signals to force a pigeon to fly in any direction they chose, Chinese researchers report.

Triggered by radio waves, the electrodes mimicked natural brain signals that control movement of the bird's wings. The scientists had sufficient control to steer the animal through the air, they said. They also performed a similar experiment on mice in 2005, according to local media reports.

In related research, in 1997, scientists at Tsukuba University in Japan demonstrated a system that used electrodes to direct a large cockroach to run forwards, backwards, left or right. They described the resulting hybrid  as a 'bio-robot'. The Japanese team replaced the insect's antennae with electrodes, rather than implanting them into its brain, as the Chinese experimenters did.

The Chinese researchers at the Shandong University of Science and Technology are seeking a practical application for their animal movement control invention, local news agency Xinhua reported.

"We think it's another example of experimenters trying to make silly science look noble,'' a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said of the earlier Japanese experiments, according to a local US press report of the time.

Does the pigeon know?

Does the pigeon know that its being controlled, or does it think that it's doing what it wants to do?


Will robots in homes in 2007 be free so it encourages people to get one, and when the free one breaks they will most likely buy a new one?

Wicked, in the original

Wicked, in the original sense.
I cannot think of anything more sinister than extending direct control over the bodies of animals.