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My God! Someone's actually made a cyborg!

It turns toward light and not much else

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After years of sci-fi nuts and phoney professors claiming they have built a cyborg - part machine, part living tissue - it would appear that someone has actually done it.

It can't do very much and it's incredible inefficient but it actually does use biological material to communicate with machinery to some practical end. What is it? The brain stem of a bloodsucking fish called a lamprey stuck in an oxygenated salt solution and connected to a robot.

What does it do? Detect light and then turn to face it. If a light shines on it, the brain sends out an electronic pulse. This is sent through a microprocessor which causes the robots wheels to move and face the light source.

That's it really. Not really very useful and it's not a cyborg in any sense of the word. And it dies after a few days. But we are bigging it up simply because it works and actually is what its creators say it is. Honesty basically.

Of course, the scientists at the University of Chicago got a little carried away when quizzed about what the future may hold and rabbitted on about it being used for stroke victims or people with Parkinson's - but we'll let that go.

Don't start thinking that media-hungry "scientists" will now start being honest though. At almost exactly the same time, a Russian scientist had reverted to the tradition of talking utter twaddle. Vitali Valtsev reckons he has built the world's first artificial brain that can compete with human brains. Amazing.

Except, after 30 years working on the thing, he can't actually provide any evidence of the "brain" working. Or even that the brain exists. But Vitali won't let these small facts stop him. No, instead he's already predicting the end of mankind as his brain learns from mistakes and takes over. "This machine needs to be trained like a new-born child. It is extremely important for us to make it a friend and not a criminal or an enemy," he waffled.

Reminds us of the UK's very own Captain Cyborg, Kevin Warwick. Planet GaGa must be getting very crowded. ®

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