In the interests of medical research and the pursuit of Extreme Scientific Cleverness, biological researchers around the world have managed to grow a burgeoning range of miniature human organs in vitro in laboratories around the world in recent years.
Now the ultimate organ1 – the human brain – has been nurtured into life from skin cells in a research lab at Ohio University. Replete with a rudimentary optic stalk and a cephalic fixture,2 the “brain organoid”, as the researchers have dubbed it, was apparently developed to the equivalent of the brain of a five-week-old fetus.
When scientists cultivate organs, I’m all for it because such research will, one day, save and enhance lives everywhere. But a five-week-old fetus brain equivalent in a freakin’ jar is a whole other ball game. We’re talking about fooling about with something that isn’t just an organ it is THE organ that defines us as humans. And that’s pretty big.
Now, I like a good brain-in-a-bottle story as much as the next person, but when they actually start doing it, I’m not so sure. It raises a heck of a lot of fundamental questions: does it have any sort of consciousness? Does it have feelings? And how much could one reasonably expect to pay to see it in a sideshow?
But scarier than the fact that it is a real human brain in a bucket, is that DARPA, the organization that creates killer robots, autonomous war machines, and other nasty Secret Squirrel technology may be considering using it as part of their research.
Human organoid fetus brain in a three-ton killer robot anyone?
[Post image via Shutterstock]