In James Cameron's Avatar, the protagonist is sensorially implanted within an alien creature, giving him agency within that creature's world. Scientists here in real life are fiddling with a similar technology, albeit a more primitive one—rather than using elegant blue-skinned Nav'i, they're starting off with us "beaming" down to rat level. (And vice versa!)
Computer scientists at University College London and the University of Barcelona are experimenting with what they call "beaming," essentially a combination of virtual reality, robotics and teleconferencing. I'm not sure which part of their two-part experiment was creepier: Having a human control and experience the vantage point of a rat-sized robot amongst real rats, or having a rat hooked up to a human-looking avatar.
[A rat was] used to control an avatar projected into the VR world the human subjects experienced via a head-mounted display.
Tests were carried out with 18 human subjects who interacted individually with one of two rats.
In their interaction the rats and people played two rounds of a five-minute game. The game was designed to encourage the two subjects to approach each other.
In one of the games, human subjects were told that the avatar they were seeing was controlled by a human when actually its movements were still determined by the rat. This test was done to see if human reactions to avatars changed if they thought a human was involved.
The experiments are presumably being conducted to detect which humans are most likely to turn state's evidence.