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Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:20 PM

Rat Robot Beats on Live Rats to Make Them Depressed

http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/medical-robots/ratbot-beats-on-live-rats-to-make-them-depressed

Rat Robot Beats on Live Rats to Make Them Depressed

POSTED BY: Evan Ackerman / Wed, February 13, 2013



One of the two rats in the above picture isn't really a rat. One of the two rats in the above picture is, in fact, a robot. Look closely and you can just barely figure it out. Meanwhile, the rat that isn't a robot is seriously depressed, because that's what this robot specializes in: rat depression.

I should hope that you're wondering right now just why they heck someone would design a robot that exists only to instill depression in rats, since that seems kind of terrifying, to be honest. Fortunately, there's a simple answer: we need depressed rats to be able to test drugs that treat depression. Before trying drugs out on humans, they get tested on animals, and if you think you've got a drug that can safely make depressed people less depressed, it first needs to be able to safely make depressed rats less depressed, and that requires a bunch of depressed rats.

There are already some accepted ways to make a normal rat into a depressed rat. For example, you can force it to swim for long periods, or you can put it into a box and give it electric shocks. Do these things often enough, and you'll be left with one seriously unhappy rat. However, the problem with these methods is that humans don't usually experience depression like this: with some exceptions that nobody likes to talk about, prolonged swimming and shocks aren't the cause of most depression in humans, and researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo are trying to come up with a more accurate model by causing depression in rats with other (robotic) rats.

This robot, called WR-3, is basically an attack robot. It has three modes, or "behavior generation algorithms," which include chasing, continuous attacking, and interactive attacking. Chasing means that WR-3 will attempt to maintain a minimum distance from the rat but not actually attack it. Continuous attacking is, well, continuous attacking with aggressive body motions and physical contact. Interactive attacking only attacks the rat whenever it moves at set distance, which (to me) is the most sinister mode of all.

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12 replies, 1614 views

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Reply Rat Robot Beats on Live Rats to Make Them Depressed (Original post)
bananas Feb 2013 OP
whathehell Feb 2013 #1
ArcticFox Feb 2013 #2
bananas Feb 2013 #5
freshwest Feb 2013 #9
Ed Suspicious Feb 2013 #3
TM99 Feb 2013 #4
Mojorabbit Feb 2013 #6
Ian David Feb 2013 #7
Tien1985 Feb 2013 #8
rudlark Feb 2013 #10
BlancheSplanchnik Feb 2013 #11
Myrina Feb 2013 #12

Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:24 PM

1. Sounds like animal cruelty. n/t

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:30 PM

2. How about just not beating up on people so much?

Researchers seem to know how depression is instilled. Society beats up on people. Treat the cause, and people (and rats) can experiment with less drugs.

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Response to ArcticFox (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:40 PM

5. Good idea - give drugs to mellow out the beaters.

Treat the cause: heavily sedate the assholes and sociopaths, and fewer normal people will get depressed.

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Response to ArcticFox (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 02:33 PM

9. Agreed, however that's not how great fortunes are made.

Demoralizing and exhausting others by whatever means, causes people to give into oppessors just to leave them alone. It's an unavoidable response to battering.

The technique is used to set one's self above others by those who don't respect others or believe in equality. Those attacked end up paying the others just to leave them alone.

Works great.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:35 PM

3. They should build one that is aloof and makes snarky comments about the living rats abilities,

motivation, and weight/looks. That would truly be depressing.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:35 PM

4. No wonder my profession is so

screwed up.

So we torture rats and make them depressed. Then we feed them pharmaceuticals to see which one makes them 'well'. Then we give those to humans to make them 'well'.

Of course, as a psychotherapist not interested in the constant drug-them to heal-them approach to psychology, the obvious solution for much of human depression is...

stopping the behaviors that cause someone like a rat or human to become depressed. If any creature is being beaten on and tortured, in reality or in metaphor, they will be become situationally depressed. If you remove the 'robot', then the rat or human will often return to 'normal' with guidance and assistance without the need for drugs to 'cure' a problem that doesn't naturally exist to begin with.

On a final note, I am generally not a 'bleeding heart' about animals, however, as a rat owner and breeder, I find this sort of testing truly saddening. It is not really helping us humans to deal with life and its vicissitudes, and it is creating unnecessary suffering for these lovely and intelligent creatures. I have taken in abused rats where kids or other rats in a mischief have needlessly attacked them like this robot does. Rarely do they return to their normal happy & playful state of being.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:52 PM

6. The fact someone even thought up this robot is depressing. nt

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 01:25 PM

7. Just put the rat into a sexless marriage with a spouse that refuses to shower. n/t

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 01:39 PM

8. So basically,

They found that the best way to create depression is to bully the piss out of them while they're young, and then occasionally have a go later...

Instead of drug trials, why don't we try serious anti bullying campaigns.

Sorry but I was harangued tirelessly in school and this whole thing is depressing on several levels.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 03:19 PM

11. oh, hi mom. n/t

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 03:56 PM

12. That's obscene.

We are truly a warped species. I can't wait until Gaia kicks all of our asses & returns the planet to her creatures.

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