Friday, March 22

Kevin Warwick: no longer a 'mere human'
www.kevinwarwick.org

'Overriding everything, at the expense of a normal life, is Kevin's all-encompassing scientific quest and desire to be a Cyborg' (cybernetic organism), I read. Just over a week ago, his nervous system was surgically connected to a computer. In the FAQ page of his web site, he describes the purpose of the experiment thus: 'If we can just get fingers moving, and nothing more, by remote signals from the computer, this will contribute to research and may well help people to walk again, who could not do so. It may also give people an extra, or different sense, e.g. it could help blind people "feel" objects . . .'

Kevin's new book (I, Cyborg) comes out on 2 August 2002. Whether he is 'the world's leading expert in Cybernetics', as the web site claims, I have no way of knowing. But Kevin has apparently published more than 300 research papers on the subject, and become a media celebrity. In books like In the Mind of the Machine, he describes a future in which machines surpass humans in intelligence. It makes sense to me.

Some of the messages on his message board are horribly abusive, but some are adulatory. Some of his academic peers are highly critical, indeed dismissive, of his research (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1886000/1886700.stm). But remember Galileo, Darwin and others: many, if not most, pioneers in science and technology are ridiculed and reviled by their contemporaries. I admire him, and wish him success.

His wife, too, has had implants inserted and is joining in the experiment with him. Kevin says: 'I chose her because there is no one else I would like to reveal my feelings to.' I wish the brave Warwicks all the luck in the world -- and shall be returning to the site frequently to see how they get on.