Using brain implants, researchers at Duke University have allowed lab rats to communicate with each other, brain to brain, in a crude form of mental telepathy. In fact, researchers say, the two rats quickly began to collaborate, with one rat using its “brain-to-brain interface” to assist the second one in figuring out how to complete a task that would bring both of them a reward.*
In a sense, the two rats became a single biological entity. As researchers concluded, lab results “are a clear indicator that a fundamentally more complex system emerged from the operation of the BTBI; one which required considerable adaptation from the participant animals so that they could jointly perform the sensorimotor tasks.”
At one point, and just to show off, the experiment was conducted with one rat located in Brazil and a second in North Carolina, giving new meaning to Internet connectivity.
I will now give you a paragraph taken from the scientific paper reporting these discoveries, followed by a general translation:
“… we have already proposed that, in theory, channel accuracy can be increased if instead of a dyad a whole grid of multiple reciprocally interconnected brains are employed. Such a computing structure could define the first example of an organic computer capable of solving heuristic problems that would be deemed non-computable by a general Turing-machine.”
Translation: If we electronically connect not just two rat brains, but whole swarms of rat brains, one to the other, theoretically the rat swarm will become much much smarter than any individual rat, perhaps capable of solving problems that even powerful supercomputers can’t solve.
I just thought you would want to know, just in case.
* (Back in the ’90s, when I wrote a weekly science column called “Next” for the AJC, I covered the early work in this field.)
– Jay Bookman