I came across this terrifying robot on a documentary a while back. In a nutshell, researchers have spliced neurons from a rat brain to a computer-chip. The computer then transmits signals to the robot controlling its movement. As the neurons “experiment” with the movements of the robot, the neural network actually evolves or develops (learns), developing its own behavior. This is a rather terrifying example of the sort of strange mereologies I’ve been talking about. Ordinarily we don’t think of neurons as entities or objects in their own right, but as parts of another object (a body) that are unable to exist in their own right. Yet here we have a rather terrifying example of stratified objects where we have objects wrapped inside of other objects. The neurons, when transplanted to the chip, become something other than they were and new powers not present in the rat itself become manifested. The truly horrifying question for me is that of whether these neurons continue to have some form of consciousness when transplanted in this way. Is there some highly confused sentient being in this assemblage that is thoroughly bewildered by the assemblage in which it finds itself and which is living an existing of shrieking pain? Here’s the video: