Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Life as a Cyborg

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Life as a Cyborg

Article excerpt


I, CYBORG by Kevin Warwick (Century, pound sterling16.99)

KEVIN Warwick does not mention whether he got himself any tattoos when he was a teenage biker in Coventry. But if not, he has certainly made up for it in adulthood, just as he made up for his early departure from school with a fast-track academic sprint that won him a professorship in cybernetics at Reading University when he was 32. Earlier this year, he got himself a body modification that showed up tattoos and piercings for the Iron Age techniques they are. He had an electronic pickup surgically implanted into a nerve on his arm, enabling him to be plugged directly into a computer.

Hardcore body-piercers use their inorganic additions to stand out from the crowd. Kevin Warwick uses his temporary implant to claim that he is not just ahead of the crowd, but of the whole species. During the period of the experiment, he boasts, he became the world's first cyborg. The rest of humankind will have to follow in his footsteps, he warns, or be relegated to a "subspecies", "the chimpanzees of the future".

For Warwick, a cyborg is a human-machine system which improves upon natural capacities. For some critics, a person riding a bike meets that criterion.

But despite his superficially disdainful attitude to the body, Warwick is captivated by the magical idea of getting under the skin. He feels mighty when he uses his implant to make a robot hand move when he moves his own - and his underlying fantasy comes into view. Warwick dreams of making things happen just by wishing. Scratch the cyborg and you'll find the inner child.

You will also find all sorts of possibilities for transforming the lives of people whose nervous systems are impaired.

During the implant experiment, Warwick perceived signals fed into his nerve by an ultrasound detector. …

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