❝ Researchers can grow stem cells into tiny clumps of cells, called organoids, that display similar activity and structure to human brains…Now, though…several labs have inserted those organoids into rat brains and connected them to blood vessels; some of the organoids have even grown physical links with the rat brains.
The aim of this kind of research is noble: to work out how lab-grown clusters of brain cells could be used to understand or even treat brain diseases or injuries. But while a handful of cells in a rat brain may not be a problem now, and the idea of imbuing animals with human characteristics or consciousness seems distant, the integration…is giving some ethicists cause for concern.
❝ That’s especially the case as the number of organoids placed inside a rat’s head increases. “People are talking about connecting three or four,” says Stanford bioethicist Hank Greely to Stat. “But what if you could connect 1,000? That would be getting close to the number of cells in a mouse brain … At some future point it could be that what you’ve built is entitled to some kind of respect.”
Or you could elect them to Congress – most likely as a fundamentalist conservative – and hardly tell the difference.