"Robotic ray is part animal, part machine" (Screenshot: Science)

“We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” That’s an inspiring phrase, perhaps when applied to a dashing test pilot played by Lee Majors. But what about when it’s applied to an artificial, light-controlled stingray with an elastomer body and a gold skeleton? Thanks to the efforts of applied physicist Kevin Kit Parker, robo-fish like this are now a scientific fact, not fiction. Is this the opening salvo in a war between mecha and orga, one wonders? No, it’s a perfectly legitimate scientific experiment, one that’s supposedly going to lead to a breakthrough in creating artificial organs like hearts. The upshot of all this is that Parker has succeeded in creating a fake stingray that is neither wholly robotic nor wholly organic.

For those who don’t care if they ever sleep again, Science has prepared a brief video tutorial about all of this. Upbeat music and tidy graphics aside, there’s no way this is anything less than profoundly unsettling.

Sure, sure, the part about artificial hearts is nice and all, but the video takes a sharp left turn into Creepsylvania when it starts discussing the possibilities of “artificial animals.” The onscreen captions do their best to make this sound like a boon to the world, but each sentence is more upsetting than the last:

On the artificial animal side, hybrids like these pave the way for artificial creatures. They can use many sensory inputs and respond with complex behaviors. A small step toward synthetic cognition.


In other words, start packing your bags, human race. The robo-fish are on their way. There’s no stopping them. Make peace with your creator now.