The Mouse in the Machine: Scientists Make a Virtual Mouse Brain

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Image by me, Paul.

In Switzerland, they’ve got themselves a virtual mouse (like, a rodent that exists in a computer, not like a peripheral that controls a cursor), complete with a software reconstruction of a mouse brain. Remember how mere hours ago I was writing about how New Zealand’s new law declaring animals to be sentient was tied, in my mind, to what we might have to consider in terms of artificial intelligence, or put another way, software-based animals? Well, it’s all here.

Reuters reports:

Scientists around the world mapped the position of the mouse brain’s 75 million neurons and the connections between different regions. The virtual brain currently consists of just 200,000 neurons – though this will increase along with computing power. [Scientist Mark-Oliver] Gewaltig says applying the same meticulous methods to the human brain, could lead to computer processors that learn, just as the brain does. In effect, artificial intelligence.

GEWALTIG: “If you look at the neurobotics platform, if you want to control robots in a similar way as organisms control their bodies; that’s also a form of artificial intelligence, and this is probably where we’ll first produce visible outcomes and results.”

For shits and giggles, let’s say this isn’t in Switzerland, but in New Zealand. You know where I’m going with this.

At what point is that virtual mouse no longer “virtual,” but sentient…sentient under the law?

Is it already?

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