• Question: I used to watch Doctor Who, and something I've always wondered, can humans becoming Cybermen, (a human brain with it's emotions removed and inserted into a robot body) actually scientifically happen in the future, the FAR future??

    Asked by Marichat173 to Ed, Oli, yoyehudi on 17 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Oli Wilson

      Oli Wilson answered on 17 Nov 2017:

      I honestly don’t know! I was watching this video yesterday because someone asked about a surgeon who plans to do a head/body transplant (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td_P3C-Q6c8) and it raised the question of whether all the things that make us ourselves are actually stored in the brain, or whether some might be stored elsewhere in the body.
      Sounds weird, but it’s not completely bonkers – your guts have so many nerves in them that quite a few scientists call it your ‘second brain’. It’s probably involved in at least some of your emotions, and most of the neurotransmitter serotonin (which affects your mood) in your body is actually in your guts. Have a read of this article if you’re interested: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/
      So again, I don’t know the answer, and I’d be very interested to know what Edward and Yo think, but I reckon I’d advocate – even in the very far future – taking your guts with you into a robot body 🙂

    • Photo: Ed Bracey

      Ed Bracey answered on 17 Nov 2017:

      It would be almost impossible to do this with today’s technology.
      As Oli says, even head transplants are possible.
      We might be able to put a brain into a vat and put electrodes into it that could interface with machine parts, like this:

      But you’d have to put a lot of electrodes in to get it to work and so you’d probably damage the brain beyond repair.

      In terms of suppressing emotions, you might be able to put electrodes into a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex and activate it, making it suppress emotional responses in a part called the amygdala but it would be very hard to do accurately, and the brain is quite changeable, so it might bounce back!