Warwick Watch: SFX, lies and masking tape

Media appearances by captain cyborg. Oh, and a book review


Updated We've been keeping an eye out for the "prophet of the robot age" since his unwanted appearance on Radio 4 a few weeks ago and the news that he is to host this year's Royal Institution Christmas lectures. He's got a new book out see.

Things are looking up since last time we did a proper Warwick Watch. He appears to have been blacklisted by most of the tabloids and the BBC pulled one of his nonsense quotes from a recent article about computer clothing.

He is still cropping up on Radio 4 though - which we find particularly annoying since we like Radio 4 and the Today programme is very well respected. We have an unconfirmed report that he made a Sunday paper this weekend, twatting on about his next "experiment", where, amazingly, he will become telepathic with his wife by putting another of those bloody chips somewhere under his skin.

He also got a feature in Mathematics Today - we haven't seen it yet, but a copy should be on its way.

Interestingly, we're not the only one watching out for captain cyborg. Kevinwarwick.org.uk (registered by Kevin Warwick Watch) is following the great one and has noticed him on Newsnight and The Daily Telegraph. (In fact, the site has had a go at us for not linking to them - simply an oversight fellas). We recommend a look.

We've also had a fair few academics bemoaning Kev's appearance at the Christmas lectures. If you want to complain to the Royal Institution, you can email its director here.

A kindly reader has written a review of Kev's latest book, QI, for us. It's pretty long, so we've only put the first few paras here. The whole view can be found on Harry's website here.

Update: He was on breakfast TV this morning apparently. Oh, and the Guardian ran its great understated Pass Notes column on ole Kev today. Worth having a look around for today's copy on the train home or something. It also kindly gave The Reg a mention. Which is nice. The online version is here. ®

QI - The Quest For Intelligence
by Prof. Kevin Warwick
Published by Judy Piatkus ISBN 0 7499 2081 5
Cover Price £16.99 but available for £14.40 from amazon.co.uk

Reviewed by Harry Stottle

One could argue that the ability to write a book is a good confirmation of intelligence. Not, you''ll note a test of intelligence (far too many of us would fail on that basis!) but you might say that any individual capable of writing a book, stringing together a bunch of original thoughts and revealing one or two new insights into the human condition is exhibiting intelligence.

The degree, however, to which any book demonstrates intelligence varies, of course, with the complexity of the concepts discussed and the qualities of argument within the book. And, on this scale, I'm afraid, Kevin Warwick's 'QI - The Quest For Intelligence' doesn't rate very highly. About, I would say, on a par with a 'Famous Five' novel. The Quest obviously failed.

How can I justify such a sweeping condemnation? The easiest way is to give a little bit of detail about one of his central themes - the 'Intelligence Hypersphere'.

The raison d'etre for this novel construct is the entirely valid observation that you can't use the widely used measure of intelligence, the IQ test, in any meaningful discussion or analysis of intelligence. The factors measured by such a test are too few and too parochial. The weightings given to the factors are arbitrary (should spatial abilities be considered less important than literary comprehension etc etc); and the resulting single number is too one-dimensional.

This, in turn leads to, at best, a misunderstanding of what constitutes intelligence (resulting in, for instance, poorly designed teaching methods) or, at worst, illegitimate rationalisation of prejudice (justifying slavery, for example, on the basis that the enslaved races are inferior to the slave-owners). Such evils arise, Warwick argues, from our attempt to treat intelligence as a one dimensional quantity. The prejudice against afro-americans is thus justified (in the minds of the bigot) by the observation that afro-americans score significantly below white Americans on the traditional IQ test. One of Warwick's aims is to tackle this prejudice by weaning us off the single dimensional measure.

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