Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer is an Internet enthusiast based in Troy, NY

The paralyzed rat is not

I’ve seen this video going around, advancing the idea that science has enabled a paralyzed rat to walk. This follows on some other impressive medical feats like the brain-controlled robotic arm.

The thing that struck me in the video, though, is that the rat is moving involuntarily. The rat’s body is walking, but it’s an advanced QWOP-style computer algorithm that’s in control. To me this research seems more similar to those creepy Boston Dynamics robots than other advances in rehabilitative medicine.

The rat, in this case, is just a meat-based robot. Now watch the video with that in mind, watch the spasms of the front legs, and the cooing encouragement from the lab tech. Creepy right?