Brain in a vat / ASIMO

From: zeb haradon (
Date: Tue Nov 21 2000 - 18:43:06 MST

I've read a few articles today about a new robot recently shown by Honda,
named ASIMO ( It seemed to be
basically for show, doesn't appear to have any very profound AI, and the
information on it is, obviously, only what is let out by Honda (I wonder how
many times it fell over during the demonstration..). A video shows it
walking up stairs, and I do not doubt that it was going through an
inflexible program based on those specific stairs, and that it would have
fallen over if it began its walk three inches back from where it started. I
remember seeing a video of its precursor robot playing soccer, and the video
had so many cuts, I know each one must have ended right before the robot
tipped over.
But anyway, it still looks pretty impressive. With a lot of development,
mainly along the lines of integrating other already-existing technologies, I
think it could become much more versatile.
But I don't care about it walking around in my house, I'm interested in
having my brain put into one. I'm generally interested in keeping a
biological body but this would be good in the case of some accident or
illness before that becomes possible, and I'm starting to think it will
become possible sooner then a biologically grown body. By transplanting eyes
and ears as well, or the already existing cochlear implants and the retinal
implants currently being tested (, and natural
nerve impulses controlling the movements of the robot, the only big thing
missing is sustaining a brain inside.
So I'm wondering, what work has been or is being done on the "brain in a
vat" scenerio - by that I just mean keeping it alive and functional. I
assume there isn't much being done, so what is it that has to be done? I
think some of the existing blood vessel structure leading into the brain
would need to be preserved and some artificial blood, capable of providing
the right nutrients and oxygen, and absorbing waste products, would need to
be pumped through it. Some kind of filtering system in the robot could take
care of that, with replentishment coming from some factory-made fluid. The
only other thing I can think of is the immune system, which I really know
nothing about at all (are white blood cells self reproducing or do they come
from the marrow like red cells?).
In some situations this may be preferable to biological existence. By making
some changes to account for temperature variations (keeping the brain at a
constant temperature would be required anyway), the robot could basically be
a space suit for the brain, or a diving suit.
Nobody say anything about uploading.. I'm thinking nearer term.

Zeb Haradon (
My personal webpage:
A movie I'm directing:

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