On his blog, Scientist Michel M. Maharbiz explained how he added a computer chip to the back of a bug to be able to use a remote control on it. He shared how he and his colleagues implanted several neural electrodes into the beetle’s nervous and muscular systems at its pupal stage so it was completely integrated by the time it emerged as a mecynorrhina torquata beetle.
You can even see a video of them turning the bug’s flying activity on and off. Maharbiz admitted how the implants do not just control motor functions but actually tap into the nervous system and directly control movement and flight. In other words, they totally hacked into this poor little bug!
“The implanted devices are designed to hijack control of motor functions, induce physiological changes, and to serve as a self-contained platform for various transducers,” writes Maharbiz.
I have felt like that little guy at different times in my life. The bug abuse video got the best of me, my empathy kicked into full swing, and I couldn’t resist exploring further to see if I had a new page for Facebook Causes: Stop Bug Abuse Now! Exploring led me to Stephen Ornes’ article in Discover. He wrote:
With the mind of a machine and the nimble body of an insect, this bug-bot may be the perfect scout: inexpensive, expendable, and capable of surreptitious reconnaissance. The Berkeley researchers, led by Michael Maharbiz, note that beetles are strong enough to carry useful payloads, such as a miniature camera.
A Ha! A CIA bug! Bug spying. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded this work. I should have known.
Wow. It gives a whole new meaning to “bugging an office.”