Today, researchers are on the precipice of creating advanced robots that may be capable of conscious thought. These new forms of AI are not possible without making use of organisms that are already known to be capable of conscious thought. After all, before robots that have the ability to think can be created, researchers must first understand the nature of conscious thought in living organisms. Of course, most people would assume that humans make for the perfect model of conscious mental processing, as it is commonly believed that only humans are capable of self-awareness and other mental states that are indicative of consciousness. However, this is not the case, as AI researchers are drawing upon far more primitive animals as models for the development of AI robots, most notably insects. For the past few years, there has been a plethora of news stories describing the use of insects for developing functional AI robots, but now, researchers believe that robot “brains” that are modeled on insects can actually have thoughts, memories and even certain mental skills directly implanted. But the first step in achieving this depends on how well insect brains can be replicated in AI robots.

During the process of AI development, engineers have arguably come to understand insect brains better than entomologists. In fact, many AI engineers have come to understand that even the most primitive and tiny of insects are capable of having subjective experiences. This is not too surprising, as numerous studies in the field of entomology have shown that many insects have the ability to learn new skills. According to one researcher, Justin Sanchez, insect brains are both simple, and at the same time, advanced enough to be injected with memories and mental skills. This could be possible by using the simplicity of insect brains to the extract particular “neural codes” that are active while insects carry out complicated tasks that require subjective thought. Neural codes for certain skills could then be implanted into the brains of other insects and even humans at some point in the not so distant future.

Do you think that the necessity of insects to AI technology development will make insects a more respected group of animals in the future?