The release of the film I, Robot has given mainstream media another opportunity to wheel out Prof. Kevin Warwick, aka Captain Cyborg.
Warwick, who UK tabloid The Sun breathlessly describes as: “the first person in the world to have a computer chip implanted successfully into his body”, now says that he will have a chip implanted in his BRAIN, despite the fact that the operation could kill him.
The Prof. is selflessly offering his own brain to science [Expect the queue to examine this remarkable organ to be long and distinguished – Ed]. He says he’ll have a chip implanted into his noggin by 2014. "I’ll probably do it when I’m 60. It’s pretty dangerous," he admits.
This follows his 2002 experiment during which Kev says he was able to direct the movement of a robotic hand some 3,500 miles away. This was accomplished by translating the Prof’s own movements into electronic signals using a chip sited on his medial nerve. These impulses were transmitted to the hand, which moved as he had moved.
This isn’t totally silly: NASA was experimenting with using nerve signals to land severely damaged planes remotely. They weren’t implanting chips though, just using a suit with electrodes in it. And, as Space.com reported at the time, using some really powerful software.
But it is a big step from replicating with an implant what can be done with external sensors to transmitting thoughts from one brain to another.
The Sun also regurgitated Warwick’s apparent belief in the factual basis of the Terminator movies. That is: that their premise will come horribly, horribly true; that machines will get clever enough to declare war on us; that they will declare war on us; that we’ll all be killed; and that the only way to save ourselves is to become cyborgs. Like him.
He said: "The threat of robots trying to take over is real. Robots are not being programmed so that they won’t harm humans, like they are in [I, Robot]."
Fortunately for the fate of humanity, the bar for qualification as a cyborg is set pretty low. After all, when our Kev first claimed to be a Cyborg, he’d had a chip ‘implanted’ for nine days that let him open doors in his university lab by waving the chipped arm at a sensor.
And as for The Sun’s claim that Warwick is the first man ever to have a chip implanted in him, we have one word: pacemakers. ®