Scientist, futurist and keynote speaker Kevin Warwick speaks to Wired magazine about how humans will soon become so like computers and vice versa, that it will be impossible to differentiate between the two.
Kevin claims that the fact that he was born human was an accident of fate - a condition merely of time and place. He believes it's something we have the power to change.
In 1998, a silicon chip was implanted in his arm, allowing a computer to monitor him as he moved through the Department of Cybernetics at the University of Reading.
His implant communicated via radio waves with a network of antennas throughout the department that in turn transmitted the signals to a computer programmed to respond to his actions. At the main entrance, a voice box operated by the computer said "Hello" when he entered; the computer detected his progress through the building, opening the door to his lab as he approached it and switching on the lights. He was performing seemingly magical acts simply by walking in a particular direction. The aim of this experiment was to determine whether information could be transmitted to and from an implant. Not only did they succeed, but the trial demonstrated how the principles behind cybernetics could perform in real-life applications.
Kevin plans to conduct a follow-up experiment with a new implant that will send signals back and forth between his nervous system and a computer. Nothing quite like this has ever before been attempted. If it works he plans to implant his wide Irena with the chip too!
His research team is made up of 20 scientists, including Professor Brian Andrews, a neural-prosthesis specialist and Professor William Harwin, a cybernetics expert and former co-director of the Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory at the University of Delaware in the US.
This implant will be encased in a glass tube. One end of the glass tube contains the power supply - a copper coil energized by radio waves to produce an electric current. In the other end, three mini printed circuit boards will transmit and receive signals. The implant will connect to Kevin’s body through a band that wraps around the nerve fibers - and is linked by a very thin wire to the glass capsule.
The chips in the implant will receive signals from the collar and send them to a computer instantaneously.
Watch this space!