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Rise of the Machines™ scuttles a little closer

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A tripartite alliance of scientists has developed what it claims will will be the solution to the perennial cockroach problem - a robotic Judas roach which will have the capability to seek, locate and betray its insect counterparts. The Belgian, French and Swiss team says that the invention is "a breakthrough in mankind’s struggle to control the animal kingdom", the Times reports.

The undercover InsBot is the result of three years' research into cockroach behaviour which resulted in a computer programme allowing a cyberroach to mimic its victims' social habits. Professor Jean-Louis Deneubourg, of the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research, said: “Cockroaches like contact with each other. When they meet, they stay still. They are happy to be with a friend for a few moments. The more friends around them, the longer they stay.”

Bless. Next on the agenda was to construct the matchbox-sized InsBot and arm it with lasers, infra-red sensors and roach scent to allow it to move in complete darkness and properly interact with the cockroach community. Deneubourg is currently carrying out tests to demonstrate that while cockroaches will naturally gravitate to a dark shelter, if the Judas roach leads them to a lit shelter they will follow - presumably to their destruction. The prof notes: “It is plausible and realistic to imagine that, in five or ten years’ time, people with a cockroach infestation will be buying robots to get rid of them."

But it doesn't end there. The team also reckons its research will allow the development of robots to "stop sheep jumping off cliffs, to prevent outbreaks of panic among guinea fowl and to encourage chickens to take exercise". Indeed, the boffins are not targetting cockroaches per se, but just using the InsBot as a proof-of-concept device.

While we concede that a world free of panic-striken guinea fowl would be a safer, happier place for our children and that fitter chickens would relieve the NHS of a great burden, we cannot accept that even tentative development of a laser-guided cybernetic cockroach is anything other than a gravely misguided concept.

Although the InsBot researchers believe that they are contributing to our eventual subjugation of the animal kingdom, it's evident that taking the only creature on God's Earth capable of withstanding a nuclear holocaust and bringing it into contact with its ostensible nememis can only end one way - post apocalyptic winter with a human slave army serving the merciless hordes of bomb-proof, laser-armed roboroach hybrids. We cannot stress strongly enough that this research must stop now, the lab be consigned to the flames and all elements of the InsBot dissolved in molten steel. ®

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