Column: Beware thinking monkeys

I’ve always wondered if animals could think.

If penguins thought about the racial significance of being both black and white. If donkeys thought about changing their nickname to something more suitable than…well, you know. Something like joojoodad.

Once again, science has answered my question. A joojoodad of scientists (scientists travel in joojoodads, you know) discovered that monkeys are able to move a robot arm with their thoughts. I know what you’re thinking. Why can’t I move robot arms with my thoughts? Does this mean monkeys are about to take over? Joojoodad?

Luckily, the monkeys don’t have any special powers they can use over humans…yet. Unlike humans, these monkeys have special implants in their brains that control a robot arm. It’s actually quite simple. The monkey thinks “Fetch me a banana”. The robot arm moves to the right. The monkey thinks “I want to fling my poo.” The robot arm moves to the right.

The scientists made this eurekalicious discovery by recording the signals that came from the monkey brains when using a joystick that controlled the robotic arm. The joystick was then unplugged from the arm, which was now controlled directly by the special implant in the monkey brains. Then I just remembered that scene in Indiana Jones where the eat monkey brains. Ewww.

Anyway, the monkeys began controlling the robot arm with their thoughts, while they thought they were controlling it with the joystick. I did this experiment with my little brother once. We still haven’t gotten the computer chip out yet.

Eventually the monkeys wised up and realized the joystick wasn’t really necessary and threw it away. Either that or they realized it wasn’t a banana. Or poo.

“Three of us were in the room watching the monkey late at night, and all of sudden the monkey just dropped the joystick and started playing the game … the monkey just got it that she didn’t need to move the joystick,” Duke University reseacher Miguel Nicolelis told the Associated Press.

“We couldn’t believe it, it was almost like the monkey was telling us, ‘Believe me, I can do it.’ … She was very happy; she was very enthused about the fact she could do it.”

In actuality, the monkey was telling them, “Koko wants kitty!”

Supposedly, this research will be used to help paralyzed people do similar tasks. However, since monkeys are best at eating bananas and flinging poo, let’s hope the scientists expand on that lists of task. Handicapped people have it rough enough without having robotic arms in their house throwing bananas and poo at them.

It’s kind of scary. Knowing that we’ll be able to control objects with our thoughts one day. Humans have the potential of doing great harms with their thoughts. What if Saddam Hussein could control robotic arms with his thoughts? What then? He could quite possible tear a banana in half using only his MIND. I’m preparing to rue the day.

Scientists have already made implants for humans that can control a computer cursor. I’ve been thinking of getting one myself. Until I determined that would make me the laziest person on earth. I already have a wireless mouse for joojoodad’s sake.

This new type of implant won’t be ready for a few more years. The scientists still need to do a bit more research with monkeys. Let’s just hope the monkeys don’t learn to use the thought-powered robot arm to overthrow their Duke researcher overlords. The impending peril to bananas everywhere would be too great to even think about.

Unless, of course, your thoughts controlled bananas


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