A student in Jiaotong University in Shanghai has done a research project wherein he can control the movement of a cockroach by means of a “brain-to-brain” (or “brain-to-ganglion cluster”) interface: The cockroach’s antennae nerves are connected to a “backpack” that receives signals from an EEG headset worn by the human user. Then, by “thinking” about guiding himself through a pathway, the human can make the cockroach move in the same way.
Could this device be used to make them kill themselves? That’s the best practical application I can think of for a cockroach-controlling device. As an exterminator (or as a vendor who supplies exterminators) he could clean up.
There is a low-tech solution that achieves the same end result. It was sold on 1950s country radio as guaranteed to kill any roach in your home, or your money back. In the package were two wooden blocks, with the letters A and B on them. Directions were “Place roach on Block A. Strike firmly with Block B.”
You JUUUUUST had to make this a Trump thread, didn’t you?
Back to OP: I remember reading a bit back of another form of cockroach remote control (less intimate, some kind of electronic remote rather than wiring your brain in) and adding a small transmitting micro video camera. That’s right, a bugged bug.
That would likely be the lab next door to mine at Tokyo University in the second half of the 1990s. I obtained a Ph.D. in robotics at Todai in 1998, and the lab next door was working on micro-robotics, including, indeed, remote-controlled cockroaches for use as camera platforms in really small spaces.
The idea began when thinking of developing micro-robots to be used as exploration probes in places like collapsed buildings (help in search and rescue), small pipes and ducts (checking for maintenance work), and things like that (I am sure that the potential of this thing as a covert surveillance device was not lost on the developers). The idea was “hey, we need small and sturdy robots, and it is hard to design this from a mechanical point of view. What if we could use cockroaches as a platform, and thus skip the whole mechanical design aspects of it?” – And, thus, a completely weird concept was born.
As you say, control was not via direct brain interfacing, but by means of an old-fashioned joystick.
So, yeah, I was (very, very marginally) involved with the ancestor of this project.