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Backyard Brains launches “Society”, an invention for controlling human behavior and thoughts

When demoing our RoboRoach to the public, people (often parents) ask us, “It’s amazing you can temporarily control the movement of a cockroach, but can you expand this device to control my 5-year old child / husband?”

We listen to our customers and the public, as many of our products come from innocuous suggestions.  From these conversations, our development team has compiled a list of product requirements:

After a year of hard work, we hereby announce our newest invention “Society” which, for the humble price of USD $14,999,999,999,999.99 (or roughly the equivalent of the US GDP), Backyard Brains will help you build a system of institutions: courts, universities, politics, police forces, cultural mores, businesses, and religions that will collectively allow the influence of the actions and thoughts of humans.

This invention is a “long view” product; customers should realize “Society” will take approximately 40,000 years to reach fruition; developing the languages, currencies, films, laws, dance, and science fiction literature to have a fully contemporary “Society” is a slow process, though the benefits outweigh the costs.

2012 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Alvin E. Roth of Harvard University, noted: “Though some people may not immediately approve of the Backyard Brains “Society” invention, it is a fundamental principle of economics that when groups of people congregate and influence each other, such as this invention will allow, it improves the standard of living for the world through mysterious forces, of which I honestly do not have the technical training to understand specifically how BYB’s invention works. For those who don’t want to buy into “Society,” they have the alternative to enjoy life in the Antarctic wilderness or on other planets such as Mars, where their mind is free, but the risks to well being are high.”

Noted entrepreneur Elon Musk, upon hearing of this invention, stated publicly:

“I have always considered myself a “big-idea” guy, whether it’s my solar cell company (Solar City), my sexy, fast Electric Cars (Tesla), or my low-cost reusable rocket venture (SpaceX), but Backyard Brains’ “Society” Invention caught me totally by surprise. By collecting groups of humans and institutions together, and using that collective mass to influence human behavior, imagine what we could accomplish! The technology, the art, the future! I called my shareholders at my multiple companies and told them I would be taking a 30-year sabbatical to help the tech support team at Backyard Brains.”

Some people, however,  have not been very enthusiastic about this invention. Noted activist and singer-songwriter Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam fame, composed a song of protest.

“It’s a mystery to me

We have a greed with which we have agreed

You think you have to want more than you need

Until you have it all you won’t be free

Society, you’re crazy breed

I hope you’re not angry if I disagree”

Backyard Brains welcomes public dialogue regarding the “Society” invention. They can be reached at

¡Backyard Brains se habla español!

Han esperado…y esperado…y esperado…y finalmente ha llegado, gracias a la ayuda de Daniel Silva, Bioquímico de la Universidad Católica, el sitio está 95% en español! Ahora, estudiantes por toda América Latina pueden unirse a la Revolución Neuronal. Tan solo nos falta subtitular los videos y crear las figuras. Avísanos si encuentras algún error.

You have waited, and waited, and waited, and finally it has arrived, thanks to the help of Daniel Silva, Biochemist at the Universidad Católica, our Website is 95% translated in spanish! Now students across Latin America can join the NeuroRevolution. We only need to subtitle the videos and re-render the figures, which we will do shortly. Let us know if you find some errors.

You can switch back and forth between the Spanish and English version on our website by clicking on the Chilean or American Flag on the top of our website. ¡Bienvenidos!


Backyard Brains welcomes its First Employees!

After a month of exhausting collective bargaining negotiations, the Backyard Brains labor union has emerged with a new deal which brings not only organic/locally-grown lettuce for the cockroaches plus two new soldering irons for production, but more importantly the addition of 4 new faces to the Backyard Brains team! Please join us in welcoming our newest (and first, mind you) employees.

Ashton Powell – Teacher/Educator. Ashton joins the team for the summer of 2011 to help build the curricula for High School teachers. One of our weakness has been supplying teachers with the tools they need to build a lesson plan around neuroscience and electrophysiology. Ashton has his Ph.D. in neuroscience and is currently a teacher at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. As a previous customer of Backyard Brains, he has used the SpikerBox in his classrooms and challenged his students to design experiments. We look forward to the upcoming tools for teachers later this year!

Cristina Mezuk – Illustrator. Although we always pride ourself on our self-generated content, we are also aware that perhaps more detailed drawings may make things easier to understand. We were very lucky to find a local artist, Cristina Mezuk, to help us turn our initial drawings into professional illustrations. Cristina is a photographer and artist (you can check out the website of her work) that is helping us make our educational materials much more informative. See below for a few examples.

Zachary King – iPhone Developer. Zak comes to Backyard Brains via the Biomedical Engineering BME450 Design Class. Zak and his colleagues were working on an early prototype of the optogenetics kit that is still in development. Zak developed the iPhone interface and circuit to control the timing of a bright LED stimulus. He is currently working to improve the iPhone app written by Alex Wiltschko with some cool new features. Zak’s first update (version 1.7) will appear on the iTunes store in the weeks to come.

Nathan Dotz – Android Developer, Linux Hacker. You spoke, we listened. After all of our talk of being an open hardware and software company, we have heard your concerns about our lack of support for the open Android system. We are happy to have Nathan Dotz join our team to help us build an application for your Android mobile devices. As an talented hacker active in the All Hands Active Maker Space in Ann Arbor, Nathan is already really good at making hardware and software as cheap as possible. Nathan hopes to also develop a browser-based version of the app in the future.

Above: A tale of two platforms. What makes them different makes them great.